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Overall Rating
2.47

Awesome: 3.9%
Worth A Look: 15.58%
Average: 27.27%
Pretty Bad29.87%
Total Crap: 23.38%

5 reviews, 47 user ratings


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Be Cool
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Pretty good, but I'd rather see Uma and Fergie in a 'Henry & June' sequel"
4 stars

By most critical standards, “Be Cool,” the long-awaited sequel to the 1995 hit “Get Shorty,” is kind of a mess; while the original film contained both a strong and swift central narrative and priceless bits of dialogue (both courtesy of the author of the original novel, the legendary Elmore Leonard) for its foundation, this follow-up tells a far more aimless and scatter-shot story and takes a lot more time to do so. However, this film does have one thing that the original had–an enormously likable cast of actors who bring so much energy and personality to the proceedings that even the most churlish of viewers will find themselves far more entertained by the results than they have any right to be.

Once again, John Travolta stars as loan shark-turned-movie producer Chili Palmer, who, as the film opens, has grown increasingly disenchanted with the film business and is looking for a new racket. One practically falls into his lap when an old friend (I won’t be the one to spoil the identity of the actor), the owner of a gangsta-rap music label, is gunned down by Russian mobsters. The dead man’s widow, Edie (Uma Thurman), is trying to run things by herself but soon discovers that the company is nearly bankrupt and owes $300,000 to a top rap group whose producer (Cedric the Entertainer) likes conducting business with a pistol instead of a pen. (The scene in which he slaps around a radio programmer who won’t play his records will doubtlessly be cheered at any screening of the film sponsored by a radio station.) Chili thinks he has the solution to Edie’s problems–Linda Moon (Christina Milan), a struggling young singer who has the looks and talent to make it to the top of the charts.<

Unfortunately, she also has an especially onerous contract binding her to Raj (Vince Vaughn), a would-be player who seems to have copped all of his tough-guy moves from repeated viewings of “Cool as Ice”. Chili takes Linda away from Raj without batting an eyelash–mostly by offering Raj’s bodyguard (Dwayne Johnson, the artist formerly known as The Rock) the promise of a movie audition; however, this raises the ire of Raj’s boss, Nick (Harvey Keitel), a man whose toughness is authentic as Raj’s is fradulent and who isn’t inclined to let Linda go that easily. Before the end credits roll, the ensuing plot involves not only all of the above characters double and triple-crossing each other, but also finds time for more Russian mobsters, a weirdo hit man (the late Robert Pastorelli), a couple of dogged cops (Debi Mazar, GregAlan Williams), a return appearance from actor Martin Weir (Danny DeVito) and performances from Aerosmith and the Black-Eyed Peas. There are also digressions (not the easiest thing in a film that seems to consist entirely of digressions), such as an extended dance number for Travolta and Thurman and a truly strange moment when Johnson performs his spectacularly inappropriate audition monologue, only to be gently reminded by Travolta that a monologue means that only one character is supposed to be talking.

As you can probably guess, the storyline of “Be Cool” (also based on a Leonard novel, though how closely I cannot say) rambles all over the place and never really comes together into anything cohesive. Instead, it feels like one of those old revue films from the 1930's (like “International House”) where dozens of stars were thrown together under the flimsiest of pretenses just so that they could strut their stuff. Many of the scenes here feel like bits conceived to allow the actors to do familiar schtick; Johnson gets to poke fun at his eyebrow-raising persona, Vaughn gets to do another turn as a blustery blowhard, Keitel gets to glower menacingly and Cedric the Entertainer gets to deliver another comic monologue about the influence that African-Americans have had on the white man’s culture, the only difference here is that it is done in the middle of a Mexican standoff.

By the end, writer Peter Steinfeld and director F. Gary Gray essentially throw away whatever pretenses they still have of telling their story in an effort to give viewers what they want. Although it has been established that Chili doesn’t know that much about music, he is still able to explain to Steven Tyler at length what “Sweet Emotion” was really about. Additionally, we keep hearing throughout the film that the Milan character is a true musical talent unlike the other plastic bimbos who can only make it in the business with tight outfits, flashy videos and plenty of post-production glaze. Yet at the end, we are treated to the sight of a garish music video (imagine Maria Montez with an upset stomach) in which she is virtually indistinguishable from the likes of Britney or J-Lo that is delivered without even the slightest bit of irony (possibly because Gray comes from the world of music videos and simply doesn’t know any better.)

And yet, despite these considerable problems, I found myself liking “Be Cool” a lot and almost all of that is because the actors were clearly having a blast shooting the film and, for once, that joy is apparent to anyone watching. Once again, Travolta is charming and magnetic and very funny in the role of Chili, one of the great characters and proof that even though he is not always the greatest judge of material, he knows what to do with a well-written role when one falls into his lap. Thurman, reuniting with him for the first time since “Pulp Fiction,” is more than his equal; once again, they demonstrate such great chemistry that you hope it doesn’t take someone eleven years to pair them up again. The rest of the actors (save for Milan, who occasionally seems a little lost amid a cast full of veterans) get their bits to shine and while they could be accused of merely repeating familiar bits (especially Vaughn), it is hard to gripe when they do so as entertainingly as they do here.

Compared to “Get Shorty,” (which still holds up pretty well today, as a recent spin of the DVD confirmed), “Be Cool” is a trifle that will, with the exception of a few moments here and there, be forgotten by most viewers a day or two after they see it. However, those moments are so funny and entertaining that they are more than worth the price of admission by themselves. The scene where Thurman reminisces about the personal duties she used to perform on the road for Aerosmith. The bit where Travolta affectionately tells her, “You’ll always be a girl”. The discussion about the joys of Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles. The commentary inspired by the playing of Dylan’s “Knockin on Heaven’s Door”. And, of course, the aforementioned dance sequence, which works both as an affectionate homage to the classic scene from “Pulp Fiction” and as a sexy show-stopper of its own

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11780&reviewer=389
originally posted: 03/04/05 15:56:24
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User Comments

5/18/14 ValenciaGrussing USA 5 stars
4/08/14 LennaPanagiotopoul USA 4 stars
7/20/13 da prof I had fun watching the movie and have the cd. great fun, decent movie. Get shorty better. 3 stars
3/24/12 Jessica Davis About what's to be expected from John Revolting and Uma Turdman. 1 stars
7/15/10 The Stick that Slaps One of the worst movies - ever... 1 stars
12/19/09 Jeff Wilder No Get Shorty. But works better than it really should. 3 stars
8/21/08 Shaun Wallner More like Be Crappy! 1 stars
3/31/07 David Pollastrini All the women in this film are hot! 3 stars
8/16/06 drydock54321 not worth the time 2 stars
5/23/06 Nicholas Gasenewe I think the movie is good and from the fact that it include most music industry people. 4 stars
11/26/05 Aldo Why would they make this .....wasn't get shorty BAD ENOUGH !!! 1 stars
11/09/05 J.D. Pittman III I loved Cedric's speech. Short, sweet, and ended with a bang! 4 stars
10/26/05 Frank Rountree Worst Travolta movie so far 2 stars
10/11/05 Wisamane it was ok, but i dono, it seemed at somtimes that you didnt know wtf was going on 3 stars
9/28/05 F Loogman Couldn't bear to see more than half the movie 1 stars
8/13/05 Lily Vince Vaughn, Andre 3000 =cool. Everyone else (especially Milian) =not cool. 2 stars
7/25/05 Cazandra This movie was so awesome and fuckin hilarious!!!!! 4 stars
7/20/05 Rosa Zared Well then, karen, hope you have no mirrors in your bathroom! 1 stars
7/18/05 karen Hollywood reveals too much, and its sicking to see women with nothing on 1 stars
7/15/05 Kathy terPlugg If this is cool, be otherwise! Pretty Shitty. 2 stars
7/15/05 C Embarrassing 1 stars
7/10/05 Charlie Be Cool... don't watch this movie! 1 stars
6/15/05 Ross McNeil It doesn't get much worse then this. Acting, story, script - all terrible! 1 stars
6/13/05 Mike be over already. 1 stars
6/11/05 Charlie So boring, I fell asleep! 2 stars
6/11/05 sirol36 Love it 4 stars
6/10/05 Monday Morning For me, any movie with The Rock in it is automatically pretty crappy. 2 stars
6/08/05 Agent Sands Hollywood material is getting so bad now that even Elmore Leonard's work is being raped!!! 2 stars
5/18/05 Gina great movie, best of 2004 5 stars
5/10/05 Kathy terPlugg If this is cool, be otherwise! Pretty Shitty. 2 stars
4/09/05 Tanya Grays no relation to get shorty at all 1 stars
4/05/05 killbill03 Awful. Travolta is finished. Thurman should be ashamed. 1 stars
4/03/05 Eric a miserable experience to watch the cast, all of them sleepwalking through a so 1 stars
3/31/05 Roy Smith Again John and Uma dance...to a rap song? Gag x 10! 2 stars
3/26/05 hannaho A sad sequel to a really fun movie. 3 stars
3/11/05 Will Smith Aw, HELL no! 1 stars
3/11/05 cpbjr blah. so much less that get shorty. 3 stars
3/09/05 LarryV It's pretty bad when the best thing about a movie is Cedric the Entertainer. 2 stars
3/09/05 DJ SUCKED! I almost walked out! WASTE OF $$$! 1 stars
3/08/05 whatevr meh 3 stars
3/08/05 filmchic Thought about walking out. The Rock: redeeming. Makeup: horrible. Travolta: walks thru it 1 stars
3/07/05 KingNeutron Great fun, a movie that's not afraid to laugh at itself. And Debi Mazar is STILL hot! 5 stars
3/07/05 ad ok 3 stars
3/07/05 ajay This movie sucks and I ALMOST walked out. Vaughn was funny but barely in it. 2 stars
3/05/05 jeff kinda slow and drags with all the music and dancing. overall it was an ok film. 3 stars
3/05/05 Kristina Williams Not as good as Get Shorty, but still a fun time. 4 stars
3/05/05 dbx umm... it sucks. Expecting "Get Shorty"? prepare to be shockingly disappointed. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  04-Mar-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 14-Mar-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  10-Mar-2005




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