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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.63%
Worth A Look: 14.47%
Just Average: 27.63%
Pretty Crappy30.26%
Sucks: 25%

5 reviews, 46 user ratings

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Be Cool
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by Jay Seaver

"It tries so hard to be cool, but only really works when it's not."
3 stars

"Be Cool" is a somewhat ironic name for this project, as it describes its hopes as much as its story. "Get Shorty" was the coolest everyone in its cast had been in recent memory, and Travolta is desperately trying to recapture that moment, to be as cool as he was ten years ago. He doesn't, not really, although a little of the cool around him does rub off. This is a reasonably entertaining movie in spite of Travolta.

What made Travolta's Chili Palmer cool in Get Shorty was his unflappability, but what made that movie and character great was that he wasn't just cool. Underneath that steely gaze was a guy who didn't really get much pleasure from being ruthless, but did love the movies. It seldom came all the way to the surface, but underneath, you could tell this guy was a total geek. And that's where the charm of the character came from: While Chili's cool makes him attractive, it's not nearly as endearing as being a total dork about something you love. Which leads us to the movie's big weakness: Chili doesn't love rock 'n roll the way he loves movies. He knows it, and can hold his own in that world, but he's going through the motions.

Part of the problem is what's been done with Linda Moon (Christiana Milan), the singer Palmer takes under his wing. She's good looking, and has a nice voice, and in adapting Elmore Leonard's novel, screenwriter Peter Steinfeld has removed every trace of the cocky, headstrong rocker who had self-confidence to match Chili's own. In her place is someone who is merely nice, and nice doesn't generate the sexual tension Linda and Chili had in the book. Maybe the feeling was that the age difference between Travolta and Milan would make that icky, so instead Palmer is paired with widowed micro-label owner Edie Athens (Uma Thurman), in one of those movie pairings that we see because we expect to see it, not because there's a whole lot of chemistry on display.

Edie, at least, does genuinely love music, even if her main credential is having traveled with Aerosmith. Thurman makes her a fun character, playful and winning, even if she's not Palmer's equal the way Renee Russo's Karen Flores was in Get Shorty. Granted, one of Be Cool's weaknesses is a tendency to mimic its predecessor too closely. Danny DeVito shows up just so that he and Travolta can reprise the "Cadillac of minivans" bit with "the Cadillac of hybrids". The sequence of events that resolves the caper aspects is awfully similar. Travolta repeats the bit where he rearranges chairs in an office so that he can have the upper hand in a negotiation, and Edie screws it up just like Harry Zim did. Most annoying, to me, was the scene where Chili tells Linda that "Whitney, on her best day, couldn't strut" like she does. It's an obvious reference to a similar line in Get Shorty, but where in that movie it was a great bit about how even lesser works can have great moments, and a reminder to Karen that her career does, in fact, matter, it's just a generic compliment here that winds up serving as a reminder of how much better the first movie was.

When Be Cool decides to be itself, though, it's often much funnier. Sure, there are a couple of duds in the cast - too much Steven Tyler as himself, and Harvey Keitel is a completely generic scummy record industry type. And a little of Vince Vaughn as Keitel's ghetto-affecting junior partner goes a long way. James Woods is charmingly James Woods-like in his small part, though, and Cedric the Entertainer easily lives up to his name. He's a lot of bluster in a little package, and clearly prefers the good life over the thug life (which he brings as necessary). André Benjamin is a stitch as his dangerously inept henchman.

And then there's Dwayne Johnson. When I read the book, I had a strong suspicion that the role of Elliot Wilhelm was written with him in mind (big Samoan dude whose trademark was an eyebrow move), but I don't recall it being such a large part. The man credited as "The Rock" grabs it, though, and throws himself into it with abandon. Johnson acts like a complete dork in this movie, and it's funny not just because he's playing as against type as any former wrestler I can remember. He can legitimately sell a joke and is as comedically fearless as Jim Carrey. I'd say he steals every scene he's in, but it's more like the rest of the cast just hands them over.

Though Be Cool is a decent enough movie, it's something of a let-down compared to other Leonard adaptations. F. Gary Gray directs competently, and doesn't ever mess up, but you can't help but compare him to Barry Sonnenfeld, who made a zippier Chili Palmer movie. After a couple little meta-jokes about sequels and not being able to drop f-bombs in PG-13 movies, this starts to feel surprisingly conventional. Gray and Steinfeld don't quite make every moment work the way Sonnenfeld and Scott Frank did.

"Be Cool" is a decent, middle-of-the-road comedy, which seems like less because it's the sequel to a great one. Where "Get Shorty" was full of little surprises, "Be Cool" settles for one mid-sized one - that The Rock is a funny, funny man.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11780&reviewer=371
originally posted: 03/29/05 14:35:02
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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
3/23/12 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
12/18/09 Jeff Wilder No Get Shorty. But works better than it really should. 3 stars
8/20/08 Shaun Wallner More like Be Crappy! 1 stars
3/30/07 David Pollastrini All the women in this film are hot! 3 stars
8/15/06 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
11/25/05 Aldo Why would they make this .....wasn't get shorty BAD ENOUGH !!! 1 stars
11/08/05 J.D. Pittman III I loved Cedric's speech. Short, sweet, and ended with a bang! 4 stars
10/25/05 Frank Rountree Worst Travolta movie so far 2 stars
10/10/05 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
8/12/05 Lily Vince Vaughn, Andre 3000 =cool. Everyone else (especially Milian) =not cool. 2 stars
7/24/05 Cazandra This movie was so awesome and fuckin hilarious!!!!! 4 stars
7/19/05 Rosa Zared Well then, karen, hope you have no mirrors in your bathroom! 1 stars
7/17/05 karen Hollywood reveals too much, and its sicking to see women with nothing on 1 stars
7/14/05 Kathy terPlugg If this is cool, be otherwise! Pretty Shitty. 2 stars
7/14/05 C Embarrassing 1 stars
7/10/05 Charlie Be Cool... don't watch this movie! 1 stars
6/14/05 Ross McNeil It doesn't get much worse then this. Acting, story, script - all terrible! 1 stars
6/12/05 Mike be over already. 1 stars
6/10/05 Charlie So boring, I fell asleep! 2 stars
6/10/05 sirol36 Love it 4 stars
6/09/05 Monday Morning For me, any movie with The Rock in it is automatically pretty crappy. 2 stars
6/07/05 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
4/08/05 Tanya Grays no relation to get shorty at all 1 stars
4/04/05 killbill03 Awful. Travolta is finished. Thurman should be ashamed. 1 stars
4/02/05 Eric a miserable experience to watch the cast, all of them sleepwalking through a so 1 stars
3/30/05 Roy Smith Again John and Uma dance...to a rap song? Gag x 10! 2 stars
3/25/05 hannaho A sad sequel to a really fun movie. 3 stars
3/10/05 Will Smith Aw, HELL no! 1 stars
3/10/05 cpbjr blah. so much less that get shorty. 3 stars
3/08/05 LarryV It's pretty bad when the best thing about a movie is Cedric the Entertainer. 2 stars
3/08/05 DJ SUCKED! I almost walked out! WASTE OF $$$! 1 stars
3/07/05 whatevr meh 3 stars
3/07/05 filmchic Thought about walking out. The Rock: redeeming. Makeup: horrible. Travolta: walks thru it 1 stars
3/06/05 KingNeutron Great fun, a movie that's not afraid to laugh at itself. And Debi Mazar is STILL hot! 5 stars
3/06/05 ad ok 3 stars
3/06/05 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
3/04/05 Kristina Williams Not as good as Get Shorty, but still a fun time. 4 stars
3/04/05 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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