Be CoolDirector: F. Gary Gray
Underworld hipster Chili Palmer is back in the entertainment business in this sequel to the 1995 hit Get Shorty, which like the first film is based on a novel by Elmore Leonard. Gangster-turned-movie producer Chili (once again played by John Travolta) has grown tired of the screen trade, especially after his latest project turned out to be a box-office flop. Chili is looking for new horizons and thinks he may have found his niche when his close friend Tommy Athens (James Woods), a fellow mobster who runs an independent record label, is murdered by Russian gangsters. Chili takes over Athens' record company, Nothing to Lose Records, and begins courting Tommy's girlfriend, Edie (Uma Thurman). Edie is an experienced hand in record production, and together she and Chili spot what would seem to be the ideal act for their label -- Linda Moon (Christina Milian), a beautiful young woman with a powerhouse voice. Linda is stuck, however, in a going-nowhere R&B trio managed by the monumentally sleazy Raji (Vince Vaughn). Chili isn't much concerned about Linda's contract with Raji, but Raji certainly is, and the manager soon takes out a contract on Chili with the same Russian hoods who killed Tommy. Soon Chili is facing all the action he can handle between the Russian gunmen, a music mogul named Nick Carr (Harvey Keitel) who wants Chili to stay out of the business, and Sin LaSalle (Cedric the Entertainer), a successful hip-hop producer who wants Chili to pay him the 300,000 dollars he is owed by Tommy. Be Cool also features appearances by The Rock as a gay Samoan bodyguard, Andre Benjamin (aka Andre 3000 from the hip-hop duo Outkast) as a rapper who isn't very good with a gun, and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler as himself.
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Cast & Crew
|John Travolta||Chili Palmer|
|Uma Thurman||Edie Athens|
|Cedric the Entertainer||Sin La Salle|
|Robert Pastorelli||Joe Loop|
|Christina Milian||Linda Moon|
|Paul Adelstein||Hy Gordon|
|Greg Alan Williams||Darryl|
|Harvey Keitel||Nick Carr|
|Danny DeVito||Martin Weir|
|James Woods||Tommy Athens|
|Kimberly J. Brown||Tiffany|
|Minae Noji||Miss Bangkok|
|F. Gary Gray||Director,Executive Producer|
|Doug Arnold||Sound/Sound Designer|
|Mark Bridges||Costumes/Costume Designer|
|Michael Corenblith||Production Designer|
|Anson Downes||Associate Producer|
|Linda Rae Favila||Associate Producer|
|Andy Gose||Associate Producer|
|J. Michael Haynie||Asst. Director|
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This is supposed to be a funny movie. It's a bit of a spoof. John Travolta has returned as the slick Chilli Palmer, who is now tiring a bit of the movie business. He is inspired, after witnessing the sudden death of his music industry friend, to jump into music himself by promoting a newcomer female singer that he's stolen (rescued) from her exploiting and unethical managers. That's the set-up we get in the first 5 minutes. It quickly goes downhill after that. The remaining hour and 45 minutes are filled with cliche dialogue and character, celebrity walk-through, and a spinning loop for a plot. In the meantime there seems to be a contest to provide as many low-life types as possible who can be connected to the empty scenario. Vince Vaughn is suprisingly humorous the first time you see him portraying a white manager trying to be black (as in pimp-manager) but then his bit gets old fast, and frankly embarassing. Cedric the Entertainer and his possy of black rappers are supposed to make us laugh as well with their satirical, over-the-top rendition of "gangsta" music thugs- but they don't! If it's supposed to be camp, it's not. Their not-so-comic stereo-types fall even flatter when the director decides to switch moves on us and has Cedric issue a serious social statement in response to a racial epithet delivered by a Russian mobster-- just before he "pumps a few caps" in him(laugh?- I can't tell). Travolta is alright in the reprise of his role from "Get Shorty," but he's a prop, not an actor here- an anchor for the other attempts at gags and comics floating around the set. In a cheap attempt to insert (not gracefuly) the magic of Pulp Fiction, Uma Thurman plays his murdered friend's widow who becomes his music business partner and love interest. Her performance is so undistinguished it looks like it was phoned in. They, of course, also just happen to have a scene where they dance together in the middle of the floor at a nightclub! For good measure, add in Harvey Keitel as another gangster-music manager, short appearances by James Woods and Danny DeVito, and a celebrity cameo by Aerosmith's Steven Tyler. It's like being at a Hollywood bus station! As if that weren't enough, WFL wrestler, the Rock, plays Vaughn's homosexual (but not admitting it) bodyguard. In truth, though, his self-effacing performance is about the only real good thing in the film, along with that of the beautiful, charming Christina Milian who is well cast as the aspiring singer, Linda Moon. Otherwise, this is very disappointing. It's not put together well, it's not funny, and there aren't enough special effects to make up the difference. Pass.
Hip, cool, with mostly subtle, sometimes over-the-top humor, this movie absolutely rocks! I really liked it that none of the actors took themselves too seriously and let the characters be, well, themselves. Andre What's-his-name from Outkast was a blast, it's too bad we didn't see more of him. Vince Vaughn was hilarious as a gangsta wannabe, and the Rock's "gay guy" was the perfect foil for Vaughn. Great cast, good chemistry make for a fun way to spend an evening. Get "BeCool"!
If you look at this whole movie as a tongue-in-cheek look at the mobster world, then you truly find the humor in it. ... over the top Russian mobsters, a Wharton School of business grad who surrounds himself with 'ganstas, a huge WWF wrestler playing the part of a homosexual guy, and a white guy who completely thinks he's black (think suburban white kid becomes hard core hip hop music producer, but whose 'hard core' mouth constantly gets him in trouble). The whole thing is a spoof. John Travolta's character is beyond belief as he constantly is put in precarious situations with guns pointed at his head. Yet despite being in constant danger, he never shows one bit of fear and has the right thing to say at the right time to prevent his premature demise. Oh yeah, along with his successful move from 'shylock' (sp?) to movie mogul and now to record producer, he happens to 'hook up' with ultra sexy Uma Thurman who is the widow of a good friend. There's nothing funnier than a clean cut white guy who thinks he is a hard core 'gangsta'. However, Vince Vaughan got more than his fair share of camera time. On a couple of occasions, I just wished that he would shut up, because he had so much camera time. Otherwise, the movie would get 5 stars rather than 4.
This movie is visually hilarious, script is witty and subtle, particularly for those who appreciate and comprehend hip hop/urban culture. Travolta and Thurman are fine but are eclipsed by the Rock, Cedric the Entertainer and Andre. Rented it, watched it 4 times in one w/e(although I skipped the music performances after the first viewing) and just bought it, recommend it to my cool (urban)friends.
Before I saw this sequel, I had heard and read that it was a terrible film. However, Be Cool is still an enjoyable comedy even if it's not as good as the original. 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 are a lot of fun moments. However, the film is a bit uneven. 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. 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. 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.
Not many comedies out there with the cast seen in this movie.