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Get Shorty was an excellent film. It was funny and had the perfect balance of highly comical acting and a serious plot. Be Cool is like some cheap knock-off trying to pass for a sequel. John Travolta as Chili Palmer seems to have forgotten that he was ever in the mob. He plays it like he's a bored movie exec, rather than a bored movie exec who used to be a Shylock. Uma Thurman, great in nearly every role she's ever played, comes off as strained and confusing. Is she supposed to be ditzy or clever? The chemistry between her and Travolta is strained and uncomfortable. Other than that, just add every movie cliché you can think of. A well-educated rap producer by Cedric the Entertainer, an inept gangster wannabe in Andre 3000, the girl with heart, soul, and a good set of pipes in Christina Milian, a gimmicky black dude wannabe in Vince Vaughn, and a stupid celebrity cameo by Stephen Tyler. The only funny part was the Rock, who invents his own new cliché as a gay Samoan bodyguard actor wannabe. Probably the biggest crime is the plot: IT MAKES NO SENSE. Get Shorty was clever with Chili playing one group against another and coming out on top. But this film tries that with about a million different characters. And even Chili doesn't seem to know what's going on. Fans of Get Shorty be warned: this is a very different, very worse movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Back in 1995, Barry Sonnenfeld directed a movie that ended up on many critics best of lists by the time the year's recaps were being printed in entertainment publications. The movie was Get Shorty and it gave lead star John Travolta his second big hit in as many years after Pulp Fiction put him back in front of the paparazzi's lenses. Based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, the film focused on wise guy Chili Palmer (Travolta) and his attempts to break into the movie business. I, for one, was completely captured by the diverse characters and crisp dialogue of the original. So much so, that when I heard there was going to be a sequel, I seemed to forgo my usual shivering that occurs when a studio tries to rehash what was a good idea over ten years later. The sequel, also based on a novel by Leonard, is this time directed by F. Gary Gray who's Italian Job in 2003 was one of the years highest grossing films. Couple that with the cast now expanding to include Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Cedric the Entertainer, The Rock, Vince Vaughn and James Woods and you have all the makings of a great continuance in the exploits of one of the more interesting characters of the 1990's. This time round we pick up as Chili (Travolta) is leaving the movie business after being disappointed in both himself and the industry for participating in the making of a sequel to his successful first film. Thanks in small part to his friend, Tommy Athens (Woods) and the misfortune of his death, Chili decides to look into the lucrative and dangerous music industry. This first leads to the famous Viper club where Chili meets singing sensation Linda Moon (Christina Milian) who as lead of an upstart trio, can belt out tunes like Whitney Houston (that is, the Whitney before Bobby Brown started bringing home the small packages of sugar). Linda is under contract with Raji (Vaughn) who, with his overly apparent gay bodyguard Elliot Wilhelm (The Rock), plan to ensure Linda fulfills the final five years of her contract even if that means putting Chili on ice. So with Linda's future in the balance, Chili weaves an interesting web which will include a record producer (Thurman), a gangsta sound mixer (Cedric), the Russian mob, the police, Aerosmith's lead singer Steven Tyler and a whole lot of angry gun pointing. Woo-Wheee! That sounds exciting. So why wasn't it? Be Cool tries too hard to, well, be cool. But the result is a film that unlike the original, has no heart and no soul. Be Cool feels instead like it was directed by a Saturday Night Live producer as there are individual scenes or skits that don't string together over a whole movie. Take for example the scene where Travolta and Thurman dance together for the first time since Pulp Fiction, as Black Eyed Peas performs live in the background. The scene is forced and should have ended up on the cutting room floor. Instead, it is coupled between two other needless chapters that do nothing to push the story forwards with any real thrust. The Aerosmith concert, and The Rock's trip to a boot shop are also prime examples of individual moments that don't amount to much of a movie when put together. But those aren't the only issues with the sequel - which could probably be renamed Product Placement with the amount of 2-Ways and Diet Pepsi's that seem to stare at you more intensely than Chili's serious look. The story contains just about every stereotype imaginable and each one has just enough screen time to become slightly offensive or embarrassing. Whether it is the gangsta entourage or the gay muscle guy that has a movie poster of Sylvester Stallone's Rhinestone on the wall, no characters is above offering us anything we haven't seen many times before and in much better films. With the magic all but gone from the first film, we end up with an inferior product that is the second film in the past six months (Ocean's 13 being the other) that cram a bunch of stars onto a marquee only to end up as a movie that no actor would bring to an open audition. Be Cool was a major disappointment. I so wanted it to be the Get Shorty of the new millennium and I ended up with a film where the outtakes must have been a gas, but experience left me with a stinker.
In the sequel to 1995's 'Get Shorty,' John Travolta is all swagger and
one-liners, reprising his role as shylock/movie producer Chili Palmer.
This time around, Chili abandons the fickle film industry for the
ever-so-stable world of music, in an effort to discover the next big
pop sensation and thus save the beautiful Edie's (Uma Thurman) ailing
indie record label. When Chili takes a promising young singer
(Christina Milian) under his wing, however, he finds himself in hot
water with a wannabe gangsta/mogul (Vince Vaughn), a gay bodyguard (The
Rock), and a slew of Russian mobsters. With a bounty on his head and
time running out, Chili realizes there's only one way to come out on
top: 'Be Cool.'
This was a comedy. And with comedy you allow for the nonsense. The nonsense makes us laugh. However, the comedy in this movie was clichéd. There was a white guy acting black, a gay aspiring actor, shady record producers and homicidal rappers. Of course John Travolta danced with Uma Thurman. Count the movies John Travolta doesn't dance in. And to boot, Cedric the Entertainer was not funny. It hurts me. The first introduction audiences had to Chili Palmer was unique. But in the sequel, we already knew Chili's cool as ice, no nonsense approach to project management. The only thing we had to look forward to was the immense supporting cast, most of whom were incredibly disappointing. I'm not going to say it was totally unfunny. I laughed. But also, I cried. I cried. It's strictly a numbers game. Put 75 people in the cast and someone is bound to make you laugh. As for the completely insulting product placements, note to Hollywood producers, AUDIENCE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW.
I feel bad now. Then again I don't. I've often said that sequels are never as good as the first. The Godfather II's are the exception, not the rule.
I went to a screening of Be Cool today and I have to say it was very entertaining. I haven't seen Get Shorty so I cant really compare the movie to anything but Vince Vaughn and The Rock were laugh out loud funny and Andre 3000 was very good in his first major role. Christina Milian was not really used to her potential as an actress but displayed her ability to sing very well. The other performances from the actors in the movie you would probably expect without any surprise. I still cant get over how funny The Rock was and am extremely pleased thats hes done so well for himself and hope he does more comedies. Overall, its a good movie that should not disappoint too many people.
This is no "Get Shorty" but it's full of so much self-deprecating humor that you can't help but cut it a break. I laughed quite a few times, and there's a lot of fun moments. However, the film is a bit uneven. It's a comedy, but then, how funny is the Russian Mafia? The movie tries hard to find the humor in hit men and quirky characters, but it often seems to be trying a bit too hard. The movie is so crammed with celebrities that it's distracting and the parade of glitterati takes you outside the film more than once. It's less brutal than "Get Shorty" and the language is much milder, but it also lacks the freshness and irreverence that made "Get Shorty" so much fun. As sequels go, it's a pretty good movie, and John Travolta and others in the film are so obviously having a good time, it's impossible not to get into the groove. There are many charming performances, including The Rock and Andre 3000, both showing a real knack for comedy. Definitely worth a visit to the multiplex, as long as you keep your expectations in check.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I laughed twice watching this movie and in case you were wondering, I
wasn't having a bad day nor was I subjected to anything else that
would've skewed my opinion while watching this cinematic bowel
movement. This movie is bad. I wanted to enjoy it and I just couldn't.
With all of this talent, you'd think this would've been at least
watchable, right? Wrong.
Let's play Sucked and Didn't Suck! John Travolta- Very likable. Though obviously buried under too much makeup, I found him to be enjoyable to watch. Didn't suck.
Uma Thurman- After Kill Bill 1 and 2, the girl deserves more than this atrociously written character. This character's big moment was showing someone how to operate a T-Mobile Sidekick. Sucked.
Vince Vaughn- The done to death role of white guy who thinks he's black goes to Vince "Money" Vaughn. Is this character template still considered to be funny? I love the guy but I want to see him in something better than this. It felt like he was slumming. Sucked.
Cedric the Entertainer- This guy is good. He delivers a great monologue after being called a racial slur (you can probably guess as to what it is) that was probably the best part of the movie. He was funny and truly elevated the material he was given just with his presence. Didn't suck.
Harvey Keitel- Sucked due to a phoned in performance.
James Woods- Sucked but not his fault. Actually, yes it was. Reminded me of his role in Casino for some reason. I don't like manic James Woods, I like slow burn James Woods. Victim of bad writing, maybe? Andre 3000- Sucked but he went down swinging. I think he has potential, as long as he's not being directed by a hack on his next picture.
Christina Milian- She's absolutely beautiful and obviously talented but this movie isn't going to make her a star. Didn't suck but needs a better vehicle for her talents that isn't directed by a hack.
The Rock- This should have been the role that catapulted him to movie stardom but as directed by F. Gary Gray, winds up sadly mishandled. In this movie, the Rock projects this charisma that makes him so likable that I wound up feeling sorry for him. He tries really hard and while he doesn't succeed completely, he gets an A+ for effort from me. This guy is not afraid to embarrass himself and go completely against type, playing a gay bodyguard with his eyes on stardom. I really want to see him make it big. He has what it takes as long as he's not being directed by a hack.
Which brings me to what I feel was the weak link in this production. I might as well just come out and say it, right? F. Gary Gray's direction was about as solid as really bad diarrhea. Wow, it was bad. Who had the bright idea of letting this guy direct? The Negotiator was good but what else on his resume convinced people that he was the man for the job? Between his direction and the atrocious writing, I'm willing to chip in for both culprits to get a nice lead salad to the knees. Wanna see John and Uma dance? I might be able to think of another movie with those two that I could recommend watching instead of this. Not worth the ten dollars and fifty cents it cost me to get into the theater.
This movie could've been okay and it wasn't even "just okay".
RATING: * out of *****.
P.S. Fergie from Black Eyed Peas is noteworthy to mention. Sizzling!
I'm a fan of Get Shorty. This is the sequel for the movie that needed
Chili is back but Rene Russo is gone without a peep. Unfortunately Chili's game was played out in the first movie and rather than find an interesting personal arc for him, they just have him stand around repeating lines from the first movie. It's pretty tepid. Travolta looks old here. It's like they move people around him because his bones are getting creaky. His pink lip gloss and the blue eye contacts are very weird. The 2nd bad role is Edie (played by Uma Thurman). She's a music producer, a role that requires her only to be the female Reuben Kincaid. ("Hey these kids have a great new sound.") In any scene she strikes the wrong pitch motivationally or emotionally or both. It's painful to watch. Despite it's plentiful problems, Be Cool gets better after a very unpromising start.
I certainly got my laughs out of it (Vince Vaughan running around on fire, Cedric the Entertainer, Ludicrous, the Rock, a t-shirt that says "widow" on it), but it offers no great memories after it's over. It's a helium-light love fest from the first frame. There's no one as pricelessly idiotic as Gene Hackman in the first movie. It's just about doing good in the world, for a couple of kids who deserve a chance (Beyonce & the Rock). Ho-hum. The first one wasn't preachy.
Working in (repeatedly) gags & lines from the first movie is annoying as is the dumb concession to the Rock's wrestling fans (he raises his eyebrow twice) as are the droll inside jokes: Steven Tyler saying "I'm not the kind of singer that make appearances in movies" ar ar.
The all-star spectacular line-up is part of the problem. The first movie wasn't burdened by "stars."
For a buck rental let's call it even.
Having watched Be Cool I feel I wasted my time and money on a huge pile of rubbish! John Travolta had one expression only - bored! Other fine actors like Uma & Harvey acted embarrassed to be seen in such utter tripe! The script was horrible, full of clichés and so NOT funny! I hated how much time was devoted to Christina singing. As a movie lover who always finds something good to see in every film, I was astonished how bad it was and nearly left after the first 30 minutes. I've nothing against the actors, in fact I like their films normally but this was poor acting, bad script in the extreme! Even the dancing scene was poor and unexciting. The Rock was the only likable actor in the whole thing and caused me to smile just a little. I am going to rewatch Get Shortly and remind myself what I liked about John as Chili!
John Travolta reprises his role as Chili Palmer, Hollywood gangster,
who now turns his eye to the music business. Using his "negotiation
skills," he tries to run an independent record label with the wife of a
murdered friend, played by Uma Thurman, and try to get his young singer
(Christina Milian) a hit record.
Before I saw this sequel, I had heard that it was a terrible film. However, Be Cool is still an enjoyable comedy even if it's not as good as the original. The movie focuses on the music industry this time around instead of the movie industry. The music business is portrayed very poorly in the movie and they use a bunch of lame stereotypes. I can't tell if this was the intention or not since Get Shorty did a nice job of spoofing the movie industry. The same can't be said for the sequel and the attempts just come as lazy.
An impressive cast is what saves the movie from sinking. The best performance is given by The Rock and it's nice to see him in a different type of role. Vince Vaughn also gives a funny performance though he started to get annoying before the end. Surprisingly, Uma Thurman gives an average performance and I was expecting more from her. John Travolta returns as Chili and he does an okay job. His performance is kind of dull though. Christina Milian gives a horrible performance and she's also not that good of a singer. Cedric the Entertainer gives a good performance though he isn't in the film for very long. There are also a bunch of cameos including Steven Tyler and James Wood.
F. Gary Gray directs and he does a poor job. He just doesn't handle the film very well and the movie is kind of a mess. There was also a ton of product placement and it got annoying after awhile. Also at 118 minutes, the film is too long and there are a lot of slow spots. The film needed to be edited badly and it clearly wasn't. Fortunately for the film, the actors are able to rise above the weak direction and script and they deliver some funny scenes. Sometimes, the film tried too hard while other times it was actually pretty funny. Compared to the original, the sequel doesn't measure up well. However, Be Cool is a fairly harmless and forgettable comedy. In the end, Be Cool is worth a rental and that's it. Rating 6/10
The first film was good, record producer Tommy Athens (James Woods)
tells Chili Palmer (John Travolta) in the opening minutes of "Be Cool."
Sequels stink, they're merely made for corporate profit, Chili adds.
Tommy and Chili, of course, refer to "Get Leo" the film Chili helped produce in "Get Shorty" (1995). Now, when we see Chili, he's recovering from the lambasting the sequel, "Get Lost" received, a sequel he didn't want to make. It's a cute joke to start "Be Cool." But it doesn't excuse director F. Gary Gray and writer Peter Steinfeld for making a horribly turgid and miserably unfunny sequel.
Gray and Steinfeld have successfully stripped all the humor and attitude out of Elmore Leonard's novel, which provided many laughs. Chili's involvement in the music business was his way to also get back into the movie business as he went about making a movie of what he was doing. All that has been omitted from the movie, "Be Cool." The problem, undoubtedly, is Steinfeld's script. Leonard's characters have attitude, charm, charisma, verve. Screenwriter Scott Frank brilliantly captured the essence of those people in "Get Shorty." Frank also found similar success adapting Leonard's "Out of Sight" for director Steven Soderbergh in 1998. Frank's impressive filmography includes "Dead Again" (1991) and this year's "The Interpreter." On the other hand, Steinfeld's contributions to cinema - "Drowning Mona" (2000) and the horribly unfunny sequel, "Analyze That" (2002). And in "Be Cool," he doesn't get a single character right. The dialogue falls flat, too.
No one seems to be having any fun in "Be Cool." They all seem to be taking themselves far too seriously and trying too hard to be funny. There's an embarrassingly lame dance sequence between Chili and Edie Athens (Uma Thurman), as if the filmmakers are trying to rekindle the magic the two actors generated in "Pulp Fiction" (1994). But this scene goes nowhere, as does a pointless cameo by Danny De Vito. His appearance only reminds us what a gem "Get Shorty" was and how we longed for Gene Hackman, Rene Russo and James Gandolfini in "Be Cool." Thurman looks sensational in a bikini, but there's nothing more to her character. Travolta, such a joy in "Get Shorty," seems thoroughly bored and, even the usually reliable Harvey Keitel is dull.
We're also saddled with Cedric the Entertainer, Andre Benjamin, The Rock and Vince Vaughn, who has rater speedily become one of the most annoying actors. The other day I realized I've enjoyed him in just two films - "Swingers" (1996) and "Clay Pigeons" (1998). In "Be Cool," a miscast Vaughn plays a Jewish manager who acts black. This could be funny if Vaughn didn't grate on us. This chap doesn't know how to act anymore - every character he plays turns into an irritating caricature with no depth. Vaughn's fast becoming a reason not to see a movie.
The charm of "Get Shorty" was that Chili realized the skills he gained being a mobster fit ideally into him becoming a movie producer. But the music business doesn't provide him with such comedy. In Leonard's novel, "Be Cool," Linda Moon, the young singer Chili befriends, was sassy, smug, vivacious and fun. She had character, charm. In the film, Linda's (Christina Milian) as pedestrian and forgettable as every "American Idol" performer. There's nothing unique about her, absolutely nothing charming. Why she would captivate Chili is a mystery. And in the film's biggest mistake, Steinfeld treats Linda's rise to stardom seriously. What was he thinking?
Everything that's wrong about "Be Cool" is crystallized when Chili waxes poetic about the reasoning behind one of Aerosmith's classic songs. The moment isn't played for laughs; it's treated as serious and emotionally heavy. Right there you realize Steinfeld and Gary had no idea how to approach Leonard's novel to give it the touch it required. I very well might see a worse film than "Be Cool" this year. But I doubt I'll be as disappointed.
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