Be Cool

"Bad"

Be Cool Review


Ten years after he forcefully established himself as a Hollywood player, smooth-talking mobster Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is prepared to flee the biz. His breakout smash Get Shorty opened the door to multiple money-grabbing sequels (wink, wink), and the once-enamored movie buff has been turned off by the homogenized studio system. "Movies are too corporate," Chili gripes when telling a friend (James Woods) that he's thinking about trying something new.

He's right, especially when describing his own meaningless sequel. Be Cool, the long-gestating follow up to Barry Sonnenfeld's hit gangster-in-paradise comedy Get Shorty, has been manufactured to the hilt to appeal to all demographics yet entertains none.

To be blunt, Be Cool isn't cool. It's a reheated Shorty. After a string of mediocre action flicks, director F. Gary Gray attempts a return to his comedic roots (he helmed the first Friday) but cribs far too much from his rich source material. Gray doesn't revisit Shorty, he repeats it word for word.

The similarities between the films are remarkable. Screenwriter Peter Steinfeld, who penned the equally hideous Analyze That, applies minor tweaks in a half-hearted effort to renovate his second-hand structure. Before things get too original, he hastily retreats right back to the recycled bits that he thinks made Shorty a success.

Chili, suddenly bored by the movies, turns his attentions to the music industry. He agrees to represent up-and-coming singer Linda Moon (Christina Milian), but has to free her contract from the grubby hands of music mogul Nick Carr (Harvey Keitel) and his ghetto fabulous junior executive, Raji (Vince Vaughn). Along the way, he helps his late friend's widow (Uma Thurman) pay off debts to the Russian mafia and a rival producer (Cedric The Entertainer), then figures out a way for all groups to peacefully coexist on music's volatile landscape.

Sounds a lot like Shorty, right? Instead of South Beach gangsters, there are Soviet mobsters. In place of a coveted script that everybody wants to direct, we have a talented singer whom everybody wants to record. Tired of telling people to look at him all the time, Chili tries his new catchphrase, "Be cool." There's still a bodyguard with acting aspirations, but here he's played by The Rock instead of James Gandolfini.

At the very least, Cool helps us appreciate how Sonnenfeld steered his ensemble through some tightly-woven plot twists. Gray may toss his familiar faces (and a few lame cameos) across the screen, but he lacks any sense of flow. Travolta and Thurman don't seem all that interested in the movie they've been asked to make. They dance, sing, discuss her haircut, and swap laundry tips with Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler.

Cool simply suffers from farm-team casting when compared to the major league players that populated Shorty. You can't trade Gene Hackman for Vaughn (who takes his shtick too far) without feeling the inevitable dip in talent. You can't even trade Delroy Lindo for Cedric the Entertainer and expect to (pardon the pun) entertain the masses. And you certainly can't hire Gray when you're hoping to come out with a humorous product. The charismatic Rock may steal this show, but it's literally like taking candy from a weakened, sleep-deprived baby.

The DVD includes gag reel, deleted scenes, and a making-of featurette.

We fail to see the humor. Seriously.



Be Cool

Facts and Figures

Run time: 118 mins

In Theaters: Friday 4th March 2005

Box Office USA: $55.6M

Box Office Worldwide: $95.2M

Budget: $53M

Distributed by: MGM/UA

Production compaines: Nina Saxon Film Design, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Jersey Films, Double Feature Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 30%
Fresh: 50 Rotten: 119

IMDB: 5.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Chili Palmer, as Edie Athens, as Raji, as Sin LaSalle, as Dabu, as Steven Tyler, as Joe Loop, as Linda Moon, as Hy Gordon, as Marla, Gregory Alan Williams as Darryl, as Nick Carr, as Elliot Wilhelm, as Martin Weir, as Tommy Athens

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