Publicity Stills of "Be Cool"
(Courtesy from 20th Century Fox)

Genre: Comedy
Director: F Gary Grey
John Travolta, The Rock, James Gandolfini, Uma Thurman, Vince Vaughn, James Woods, Christina Milian
RunTime: 1 hr 52 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: PG

Released Date: 31 March 2005


John Palmer returns as Chili Palmer in Be Cool, a sequel to the original comedy smash Get Shorty. In Be Cool (based on the novel by Elmore Leonard), Chili abandons the fickle movie business to bring his signature brand of wiseguy skills and negotiations tactics to the music industry.

Movie Review:

Be cool? It tries. Cool? Not quite. The underused actors in a mishmash of glitz and glam pave the way for a superficial telling of the music industry.

The plot sounds cool enough. Chili Palmer (John Travolta), movie producer extraordinaire decides to quit the movie industry and move into the music industry. In trying to do so, he discovers an up and coming singer, Linda Moon (Christina Milian) and gets her to sign a contract with a flailing record company headed by newly-widowed Edie Athens (Uma Thurman). But, throw in some angry Russian hit men, some crazed four-eyed assassin who shoots the wrong guy, (Robert Pastorelli in his final role) angry rival record producer, a posse that has muscles bigger than their heads, a serious Cedric The Entertainer, white boy trying to be black and laughs like the mother from That 70’s show, (Vince Vaughn) a gay vain pot for a bodyguard (The Rock) and a plethora of cameo appearances, you’ll get exactly what this review seems like now, a mess.

Chili Palmer is warned many times in the film that the music industry is different and that it’s much more dangerous than the movie industry. Seriously, the film goes nowhere near that territory. What ensues instead is a cat and mouse game between Chili and Nick Carr (Harvey Keitel) that seemed smart at first but would have left the whole Ocean’s Twelve gang laughing in stitches. John Travolta is not the Chili Palmer of 1995. If F. Gary Gray thought making him dance with Uma Thurman was a sure-fire ticket to get John Travolta back to stardom, oh boy was he wrong. The dance sequence was nothing compared to the pair’s turn in Pulp Fiction and instead of a sizzle, all the audience will get is a fizzle.

While Travolta was recognizable for he was the lead in this, the rest of the cast seemed uncomfortable and out of place. Uma Thurman fresh (or not so) from Kill Bill, shriveled into the background, Vince Vaughn was not at his comedic best and there’s a reason why Cedric The Entertainer is called Cedric The Entertainer. This was not one of the reasons. Perhaps, the only shining grace to come out from the film must be The Rock’s parody of himself. His screen time was just nice to make him look scorching. Thankfully, for a lot more of him would have made it distasteful.

The film tries to be cool but fails. Sadly, it becomes a leave-your-brains-outside-the-theatre movie. This sequel does not do Elmore Leonard’s novel justice. Alas, Be Cool is not entirely boring for it has its fair share of laughs with its dark humour lest you’re the easily bored type; I believe you’d walk out of the theatre. If you’re choosing one movie for the week, be cool and do the right thing. Choose another movie.

Movie Rating: C

Review by Mohamad Shaifulbahri

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