Movie News

Be Cool

Be Cool

By Brian Orndorf

After conquering the movie business, Chili Palmer (John Travolta) grows weary of the cinema, and switches over to the music game when he gets a chance to team up with a friend’s widow (Uma Thurman, entering the film in a very memorable way) to run a record label. After finding gold in a talented young singer (Christina Milian), Chili must first retrieve her recording contract from her shady manager (Harvey Keitel), outwit a dim, thugged-out-whiteboy wannabe producer (Vince Vaughn) and his homosexual, aspiring actor bodyguard (The Rock), negotiate a settlement of debt with a Suge Knightish producer (Cedric the Entertainer) and his gang (including Outkast’s Andre Benjamin), and try to outsmart some Russian gangsters who are hot on his tail. All in a day’s work in the record industry.

It has been 10 years since Chili Palmer last graced the big screen (has it been that long?) in the Elmore Leonard adaptation, “Get Shorty.” Impressed with star John Travolta’s performance, Leonard took it upon himself to write a sequel novel, which is the basis for “Be Cool” (IMDb listing). Chili is arguably Travolta’s finest role, utilizing the actor’s rarely used gifts for deafeningly calm coolness and charm. “Be Cool” also reunites Travolta with Uma Thurman, his dance partner in both love and heroin in “Pulp Fiction.” Their chemistry is terrific, providing the backbone of the film while every other actor gets to run around chewing the scenery. It’s tremendous fun to see Travolta in this role again. However, in those 10 years there have been many personnel changes in front of and behind the camera, which occasionally disrupts the Chili fun of “Be Cool.”

Replacing “Shorty” director Barry Sonnenfeld is F. Gary Gray, who has made some odd/awful films in his day (“Friday,” “The Negotiator”), but appears to be turning a career quality corner with his recent remake of “The Italian Job,” and now “Be Cool.” If the traditional goal of a sequel is to replicate the original experience while making it all seem new again, Gray certainly accomplishes that with his film. “Cool” still traffics in that classic Leonard mode of guns, hoodlums, masses of characters, and all their double-crosses, but the setting has been changed to the music industry, which Gray, a former video director, seems to know something about. Gray deftly evokes the treacherous Southern California music scene, yet keeps the story light enough to succeed as a zany comic caper. This is the most assured directorial work Gray has delivered up to this point, and he has a loose way with actors that really brings out their charisma, especially in Cedric the Entertainer, Harvey Keitel, and The Rock, who finally found a film that exploits his personality without burying it in stupidity. In fact, he nearly steals the film away from Travolta with an uproarious scene that has his character reciting lines from “Bring It On” for his audition monologue in front of Chili.

What Gray lacks is a tightness in his storytelling that Sonnenfeld has honed carefully over his career. “Be Cool” isn’t the most efficient film I’ve seen. Gray keeps getting tied up in Leonard’s complicated plotting, which effects the film’s pace at times, and results in about nine endings for the picture. Gray also overdoes the Vaughn character, played with appropriate homeboy bluster by the actor. The character isn’t exactly an original creation, as cinema has had its share of white boys acting like black rappers. Vaughn’s dedication to the role is hilarious, but Gray ruins the effect by inserting Vaughn’s performance too often.

“Be Cool” is a solid, funny, groovy return to the screen for Chili and his wacky West Coast adventures; and it doesn’t embarrassing the original film. What’s next for Chili and Leonard? Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 10 years to find out.

Blu-ray Details and Extras

Recent movie so no surprise to discover that the film’s audio and video presentation is top-notch. Also adding value to the package are a small but tasty dropping of special features.

Share this story!Share on FacebookShare on TumblrShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Pin on PinterestDigg thisBuffer this pagePrint this pageShare on LinkedIn
(Visited 2 times, 2 visits today)
Click to add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Movie News

Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole. Loves David Lynch, David Fincher... actually, any filmmaker by the name of David.

More in Movie News

Ghostbusters Day 16

Reitman says Tatum-Pratt Ghostbusters isn’t real!?

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015
Pitch Perfect 2

Pitch Perfect 2 featurette released ahead of DVD/BD bow next week!

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015
British actor Daniel Radcliffe poses for photographers on the red carpet as he arrives for the UK Premier of "Horns" in central London on October 20, 2014. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images ORIG FILE ID: 534575666

Daniel Radcliffe joins the FBI for Imperium

AshJul 31, 2015
"Star Wars: Rogue One" Logo

Sherlock actor boards new Star Wars

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015

What’s the hold up on Beverly Hills Cop 4?

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015

Batgirl in Batman v Superman!?

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015

Trailer : Room

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015

Watch Disney Pixar’s Lava here!

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015

Trailer : Black Mass

Editorial StaffJul 31, 2015