Be Cool (2005)
Disenchanted with the movie industry, Chili Palmer tries the music industry, meeting and romancing a widow of a music executive on the way.
Streetwise mobster-turned-movie producer Chili Palmer is back, but this time Chili has abandoned the fickle movie industry and veered into the music business, tangling with Russian mobsters and gangsta rappers and taking a talented, feisty young singer named Linda Moon under his wing. From the recording studio to an Aerosmith concert to the MTV Music Awards, he manipulates events to watch them play out the Chili way, using his signature blend of wiseguy skills and negotiation tactics. It's a dangerous business, and everyone's looking for their next big hit.
In this sequel to "Get Shorty", Chili Palmer is tired of the movie production business after being forced to make a useless sequel starring Martin Weir. When a music producer friend is gunned down, he offers to help his widow run the business. Checking a talent that the producer had been talking to him about puts Chili at odds with a sleazy music manager, his gay bodyguard, and his equally sleazy partner. The mismanagement of the music company also gets Chili threatened by members of the Russian mafia and a suburban rap-mogul producer & his thugs led by his bumbling relative. All turns out well when it is determined that the dead producer's wife had at one time been the laundress for Aerosmith and making contact with Aerosmith leader Steven Tyler at a Lakers game, gets their protégé a duet with Tyler at an Aerosmith concert.
- In this sequel to the 1995 film, former loan-shark-turned-Hollywood producer Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is driving through Hollywood in his shiny black caddy, complaining to his driving companion about how he's become disillusioned with the movie business after being talked into doing a highly unsuccessful sequel to his hit film, Get Leo. They pass a poster for DVD's of the sequel, 'Get Lost', marked down to $4.99. Chili's thinking about going back to loan sharking, where people are at least openly dishonest, rather than being completely unreliable, as in Hollywood.
In Chili's passenger seat is Tommy Athens (James Woods), apparently an old acquaintance of Chili's from the East Coast who's looked Chili up because Tommy's got an idea for a movie. They stop for breakfast at a patio cafe and Tommy makes his pitch, which basically amounts to 'make a movie about me, Tommy Athens, former mob goomba now successful record executive in the crazy, crazy music business'. He also wants Chili to meet an artist from his independent record label, Linda Moon, who could be a nice additional to the project.
Chili isn't too impressed. As far as he's concerned Tommy hasn't even got a complete idea for a movie, let alone a plot or actual characters. Plus Tommy doesn't seem like a very interesting guy. Chili excuses himself to the washroom, and when he comes out some Russian mob heavies have pulled up outside and have a gun on Tommy.
Chili calmly steps out of the line of fire and counts the shots as the head Russian, while holding onto his bad toupee with one hand, proceeds to shoot everything in sight, ending with Tommy. The Russian's probably handicapped by his nasty black eye. Chili coolly steps out to get a good look at these guys who just offed his breakfast meeting, and the Russian narrows his eyes and pulls the trigger one more time, but of course he's out of bullets. The Russians drive off.
The police arrive and Chili, now respected movie producer, favorite guest of late night talk shows, happily describes everything that happened. The female detective isn't too impressed with Chili and his mob past, but is willing to believe him, while her black male partner is star struck. Chili is forced to drive off in a Honda Prius compact hybrid car from his executive leasing company, since his Cadillac was hit with half the wild shots from the Russian.
That night Chili goes by the Viper Room night club to check out Linda Moon (Christina Milian), mostly out of politeness since she was expecting Tommy to bring Chili by. Much to Chili's pleasure, she turns to be a great young R&B singer, but she's stuck in a girl group - The Chicks (?!) - with two horrific plastic surgery victims who sing like drowned cats.
After the set finishes Linda comes off stage to sit with Chili and admits she's desperate to get into something other than the music business. It's going nowhere for her. Chili, ever the entertainment buff, is amazed by her pessimism. As far as he's concerned, Linda's dynamite.
Linda replies by describing her manager, Raji (Vince Vaughn), a white guy convinced he's a black playa, who dresses like a pimp and treats Linda like a member of his stable. Raji's occupying a booth on one side of the club, accompanied by his gay bodyguard Elliot (The Rock), and quickly proves to be everything Linda said and less.
Chili decides on the spot to deal with this problem by coolly declaring himself Linda's new manager. Raji isn't happy with this one bit, but after Chili throws Elliot to the floor by his throat, no one's in a position to argue. Chili suggests that he'll see if he can get an audition for Elliot, who's an aspiring actor.
Segway to a scene the next morning where we meet Sin LaSalle (Cedric the Entertainer), successful and caring black father, calmly cooking pancake breakfast in his suburban mansion for his young daughter, who he patiently dotes over. Sin goes outside to get the paper and waves to his whitebread neighbors as a convoy of hummers pulls up outside.
It turns out this is Sin's posse - he's a highly successful gangsta rap producer and agent, who reps a multi-platinum group, the DubMD's. Despite the careful upper middle-class face he presents to his daughter, Sin will happily cap anyone who messes with his music business, and the posse have returned from kidnapping a radio executive who isn't playing Sin's records enough for Sin's liking. With the troupe of steroid abusing gang-bangers looking on respectfully, Sin proceeds to slap the radio exec silly in the back of a hummer with the pancake spatula.
The next day Chili goes to see old acquaintance Edie Athens (Uma Thurman), Tommy's estranged wife. He finds her wearing only a bikini and sleeping off her drunken salute to her dead husband, and Chili slowly pulls her together. It's obvious he cares for her, but also sees in her his entrance into the music business, through the record label she started with Tommy, TLS Records, and her ancient music industry connections from her days travelling with Aerosmith (as their clothes washer).
Chili and Edie meet with Tommy's goth assistant who shows them some evidence the Russians left at TLS, and describes Tommy's last meeting with them, which is where the Russian boss got the black eye. Chili quickly infers that the Russians were trying to pull a protection scam on Tommy, who wasn't buying because he used to run protection rackets himself back in Brooklyn. One ticked off Russian later, Tommy's dead.
Chili takes Edie to see Linda perform at a local community center, and Edie's impressed. She agrees that TLS will produce Linda's record. Linda's ecstatic - she's finally moving forward again.
Meanwhile, Raji meets up with his business partner Nick Carr (Harvey Keitel) at their promotion company - Carousel Promotions. It's quickly clear that Nick really runs things, since Raji's a useless poseur, and that Nick's a former mob guy himself. Nick's got big plans for Linda Moon and The Chicks and he's not impressed with Chili Palmer, former loan shark, and dispatches Raji to hire Nick's old school hitman contact - Joe Loop (Robert Pastorelli) - to take Chili out.
At the TLS offices, Chili has problems. Edie's in house record producer, Hy Gordon, likes Linda's voice and talent, but describes how they'll need to come up with some sort of hook to her sound, or the record simply won't catch on. Obviously this won't be quite as easy as Chili thought. Edie announces that TLS is broke, according to Tommy's accounting books, so they can't afford to make the record anyway, and Edie is not at all thrilled to find out that Chili doesn't actually have Linda's recording contract. Worse, the books reveal that TLS owes a good chunk of change to the DubMD's, who TLS recorded early in their career.
Speak of the devil - Sin pulls into the parking lot with his convoy of hummers and comes in looking for the $300,000 TLS owes him, accompanied by the steroid posse and a lot of guns. Chili manages to make it look like TLS is still a reasonably thriving concern, but he can't stop Edie from freaking out and revealing that TLS can't pay Sin. Chili defuses the situation with a promise that he'll get the money by the end of the week, which Sin reluctantly accepts.
That night, after dinner with Edie, Chili goes home to find a dead Russian with a gun sitting at his kitchen table. Looks like the Russians tried to get rid of the witness to Tommy's shooting, but someone shot the Russian hitter through the kitchen window with a rifle. Chili calls a mob enforcer friend to help him identify the body, then calls the police. Chili doesn't have anything to hide in this, after all.
Meanwhile, Nick Carr has found out about the botched hit and sends Raji to straighten it out with Joe Loop. As far as Nick's concerned, it's Raji's problem. Joe, an old time slob of a serious mob guy, hates Raji's poseur guts and forces him to agree to pre-pay for another attempt on Chili.
Nick comes home that night to find Chili waiting for him. Chili coolly demands Linda's contract, but Nick isn't having any of it. He tells Chili how almost everyone in the music business is a mobster, so Chili's intimidation act won't work. Meanwhile, Raji's meeting Joe Loop the hitter to pay for Chili's killing, but when Joe starts to choke on a sandwich Raji seizes the opportunity to regain some self-respect by beating Scary guy Joe to death with a baseball bat. Raji and Elliot dump Joe's body in the park.
The next morning Chili's mob friend Freddie helps him find a pawn shop where the Russians are known to hang out. Chili doesn't have to worry about confronting the Russians in the shop, because it's under FBI surveillance, and everyone knows it. Chili, never one to be intimidated, gives the Russian boss another black eye and beats up an enforcer or two, just to make a point. Now the Russians really aren't happy.
The police detectives catch up with Chili and ask him about Joe's body, found in the park. Chili happily identifies Joe from the photos, and guesses that he was the hitman who shot the Russian, but of course doesn't know anything about Joe's murder.
The next day Chili and Edie go to a basketball game where Chili has arranged for floor tickets next to Steven Tyler from Aerosmith. Sure enough, he remembers Edie from her groupie days and they reconnect. After the game Chili charms Steven and gets him to agree to consider letting Linda sing at Aerosmith's upcoming concert.
When they get home to Edie's house Elliot is waiting to ambush them with Raji's bat, but Chili once again deals with Elliot without great difficulty. Once again, Chili also charms Elliot with promises of an audition, even though the bodyguard was ticked off that Chili hadn't come through already. Chili sends Elliot on his way, keeping the bat.
Nick Carr finds out about the Russians wanting Chili dead and makes an arrangement with them by way of he'll get Chili back to the pawn shop, and the Russians will kill him. They'll both be happy.
The next day Linda doesn't show up at TLS Records and Chili has to go rescue her from the Viper Room, where she's practically being held prisoner by Nick and Raji in preparation for that night's stage performance. Linda isn't too happy with Chili, having not heard anything from him for the last couple days, and is starting to doubt he can do anything for her. All is forgiven after he reveals she'll be singing with Aerosmith.
As a parting gift, Chili tells Nick about Joe's murder, having easily deduced from the police info that Raji killed him, which is news to Nick. Nick isn't happy with anyone now, but tells Chili he can have Linda's contract if he can pick it up, and presents Chili with a pawn ticket.
The next day the police come by Edie's house with a few more questions about Tommy, and Edie gives the detective the pawn ticket, pretending to have found it in Tommy's desk. The black detective goes to the Russians' shop, who are forced to hand over the envelope Nick left with them, which of course is empty. Now the Russians aren't happy again, since they still haven't got Chili Palmer.
After Nick tells Raji that he'll have to kill Chili personally, or be killed himself, Raji decides he'll have to make a move against his partner Nick. Knowing about the TLS debt to Sin LaSalle, Raji phones, and while insulting him wildly, tells Sin that Nick Carr has forced TLS to pay Carousel 300K for Linda's contract, instead of paying Sin. Since Raji's an idiot, Sin easily uses Last Call Display to find out who phoned.
Meanwhile, Chili sends his friend Freddie to leave a package at the pawn shop with the Russians, which the Russians accept, not knowing the connection to Chili.
That afternoon Sin and the steroid brigade burst into Nick's office at Carousel packing guns and dragging a much abused Raji behind them. The posse hangs Raji off the outside balcony, much to Nick's pleasure, while Sin threatens to kill Nick for interfering with Sin's money, much to Nick's dismay. Things get worse for Nick when the Russians show up and pull guns on everyone.
Nick tries to explain to the Russians that it isn't his fault the setup on Chili failed and the police showed up instead, but the Russians aren't convinced, and insult Sin's ethnicity when he tries to claim first dibs on Nick's life. Sin gets the upper hand again when some late arriving gang-bangers get the drop on the Russians. After a great speech about lack of respect for black contributions to culture, Sin calmly shoots the Russian boss, takes Linda's contract form Nick, just so Chili can't get it, then leaves Nick and Raji with the body.
That night Linda performs with Steven Tyler at the Aerosmith concert and kills (even though it's a crappy performance in the movie), much to Chili and Edie's relief and pleasure. Chili finally gets he also wants later that night at Edie's house.
All is not over though. Chili wakes up in the middle of the night and finds Sin and his posse sitting in Edie's living room. It's after midnight Friday morning and Sin wants his money immediately, in exchange for Linda's contract, or he'll happily kill Chili right there for all the trouble he's caused.
Edie comes down a few minutes later, expecting the worst, and finds Sin and Chili happily sitting together listening to Linda's demo CD. After Chili convinced him to listen to it, Sin quickly realized that she had the talent to make it big, and Chili's agreed to let Sin produce the album which will net Sin a lot more money than the 300K TLS owes him. Even better for Chili and Edie, with Sin's name and distinctive sound on Linda's album, it will be a guaranteed success.
Chili suggests that they get a famous music video director for Linda's debut video, but Sin scoffs that the director's too unavailable. Chili calmly takes back control of the whole situation and relationship by mentioning that the director was a PA on Chili's first movie. Everyone's happy.
Except for Nick and Raji. They ambush Chili and Edie a little while later at Linda's video shoot, and take them down the street for payback. Chili gives up his pawn ticket to Nick, claiming that it's where Linda's contract is, but Nick isn't worried now that the Russian boss is dead, and leaves Raji and Elliot to kill Chili and Edie.
After Chili gets Elliot to check his text messages, finding a message about an audition for a Nicole Kidman movie, the bodyguard changes sides against Raji, who's been abusing poor deluded Elliot throughout the film. Raji ends up fleeing into some video pyrotechnics and setting himself on fire, all of which is filmed in the video.
The next day Nick picks up Chili's package at the pawn shop, but discovers to his confusion that it's only a baseball bat. The police burst in, having been alerted by Chili, and arrest him for Joe Loop's murder, which is hard for Nick to explain since he's holding the murder weapon.
The movie ends at the MTV Video Awards, where Linda wins for best new artist and video, and thanks Edie, Sin, and most of all, Chili.
Raji is now famous for the footage of him running through Linda's video with his pimp outfit on fire.
On an interesting note, the various actors from the movie solo dance behind the end credits. Other than Travolta, most of the recognizable actors aren't great dancers, while most of the unknowns, including several of the guys who play nameless Russians, are surprisingly good.