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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.63%
Worth A Look: 14.47%
Average: 27.63%
Pretty Bad30.26%
Total Crap: 25%

5 reviews, 46 user ratings

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Be Cool
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by Lucas Stensland

"A very lame movie that wastes a great cast."
2 stars

Barry Sonnenfeld's Get Shorty, based on the popular book by Elmore Leonard, was released in the mid-90s to justified critical and box-office acclaim. It was smart, tough, colorful and lean. Even though it was followed by two superior Leonard adaptations, Quentin Tarantinio's Jackie Brown and Steven Soderberg's Out of Sight, respectively, the film was still a big studio accomplishment. Even though it was a big budgeted film with no auteur or real originality, the audience could only sporadically see Hollywood's irksome kid gloves.

Now about a decade later Hollywood is offering the same audience a sequel, F. Gary Gray's Be Cool, which is based on Leonard's less popular follow-up novel of the same name. To put it one way, Sonnenfeld is no Soderberg and definitely no Tarantino, and unfortunately Gray is no Sonnenfeld. To put it another way, Be Cool is incredibly lame.

Leaving behind the movie industry (and ostensibly all of his friends), Chili Palmer (John Travolta) takes a crack at the music biz, an industry he has very little to say about, thus negating half of his character's charm. James Woods plays a sleazy music executive, a friend of Palmer's from the old neighborhood. He gets whacked by some inept Russian mobsters, leaving behind his wife and business partner, Edie (Uma Thurman), whom he never fully appreciated. In steps Palmer.

After buddying up to Edie, Palmer discovers Linda Moon (Christina Milian), a big talent stuck under contract to wannabe-gangster music executive Raji, played by a sometimes funny Vince Vaughn. His partner Nick Carr is played by a surprisingly flat Harvey Keitel; sleevelessness is Carr's most memorable character trait. Also, Cedric the Entertainer plays Sin LaSalle, a remix master who is after Edie to collect the debt her husband left behind. Yes, all of this, in some convoluted and unsmooth way, comes together. Only The Rock, who plays Vaughn's gay bodyguard, consistently steals scenes and gets laughs.

Get Shorty was wisely set to Travolta's rhythm. Palmer, a Brooklyn native Miami loan shark who goes west to Hollywood, is one of those roles Travolta seemed born to play. But as audiences have come to once again doubt Travolta's leading-man abilities, Gray's direction likewise mistrusts the icon and sadly his direction casts doubt over him. Often Palmer is lost in the haze and muddle of the unstructured loud-clothing contest that is Be Cool.

One of the delights of Get Shorty was that virtually every character longed to be something else: Chili Palmer and Rene Russo's B-actress wanted to be movie producers; Delroy Lindo's mobster wanted to write and produce; James Gandolfini's bodyguard wanted to be a stunt man; Gene Hackman's schlock producer wanted to be a prestige producer; David Paymer's schluby Leo wanted to be a classy high roller; and so on. And this said a lot about Hollywood, where Danny DeVito's superstar actor Martin Weir epitomized a cynical truth about Tinsel Town success: People pretend to be other people to such an extent that the original person becomes blurred. This is underscored in one poignant scene where Weir cannot even recall why his pre-fame marriage fell apart.

None of this wit can be found in Be Cool, where Sin LaSalle, Edie and Nick Carr are happy with whom they are career-wise. Linda Moon is also quite content with herself; she only longs for top-forty success. In one terrible scene Moon sings a banal ballad about wishing to have popular success, and her overstated singing almost brings tears to Palmer's eyes. Instead of Get Shorty's cynicism toward the movie industry, Be Cool seems downright enraptured with the present "American Idol"-ized music business. Chili Palmer surrendered all of his coolness in one fell swoop. Only The Rock and Vince Vaughn can count their performances successful, and they seem to adhere more to the style of Get Shorty.

Get Shorty felt like a little-league version of Robert Altman's The Player by way of Quentin Tarantino (and fittingly it starred Travolta, who's played hit men for both directors). On the other hand, Be Cool felt like its own Raji, Vaughn's black-wannabe: This is a PG-13 movie trying to pass itself off as gangsta. Its loud colors and wide spaces don't highlight what Gray must have intended--buoyancy and personality--but ironically underscores its very lack. Be Cool is wack, yo.

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originally posted: 03/22/05 16:48:05
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User Comments

4/05/16 Charles Tatum Hard to believe these are the same characters; smug sequel 1 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 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
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  04-Mar-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 14-Mar-2006



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