Be Cool


Directed by: F. Gary Grey
Written by:Peter Steinfeld
Starring: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Vince Vaughn,  Cedric The Entertainer, Steven Tyler, Andre 3000, Robert Pastorelli, The Rock, Harvey Keitel, Danny DeVito, James Woods, Christina Millan
Released: March 10, 2005
Grade: B-

Released way back in 1995, Get Shorty was a great comedy with a stellar cast.  As the sequel, Be Cool has an equally strong cast but the comedy just isn’t the same.  Everything seems hit and miss.  For every good joke, there’s a bad one.  For every great scene, there’s an average one.  For every amusing cast member, there’s a dull one.  The result is a film which should have been better and makes you appreciate the wit of Get Shorty.

This time around, former gangster Chili Palmer (Travolta) has decided to quit the movie business.  It’s time for something new and having stumbled across talented singer Linda Moon (Millan), he wants to delve into the music industry.  The transition isn’t as easy as Chili had hoped.  Linda’s contract is currently held by manager Nick Carr (Keitel) who has no intention to release her.  Further, Chili’s late friend Tommy Athens was just murdered and music manager Sin LaSalle wants Chili to make good on the $300,000 that Tommy owed him.  Oh and yes, the Russian mafia is after Chili to finish some unwanted business.

Despite these dilemmas, Chili always remains “cool”.  He finds love with Tommy’s late wife Edie (Thurman) and everything he does for Linda turns to gold.  He even manages to get her a gig performing with Aerosmith in front of 20,000 people.  Don’t ask me how but the suave Chili always knows what to do…

It’s a fun character for John Travolta and I’m sure he enjoyed the opening scene of the film where it pokes fun at filmmakers and the idea of a sequel.  There are also a few sly jokes at certain people and methods within both the film and music industries.  It’s trying to be intelligent and it hits the mark on several occasions.

Yet as I’ve already alluded to, there are some horribly disappointing moments.  The usually enjoying Vince Vaughn is dreadful in a role in which he plays a white guy who thinks he’s black.  My criticism is not just of Vaughn but also of the silliness of the character.  In contrast, The Rock steals the whole show.  I can’t believe I’m saying that a former wrestler out-shines the likes of Keitel, Thurman and Travolta but there you have it.  Almost every word and action of The Rock will leave a smile on your face.

Those looking for the lofty heights of Get Shorty will undoubtedly be disappointed.  Those who haven’t seen the predecessor may find a little more amusement.  It’s a tired cliché but once again we have a sequel which just isn’t good enough.