Related Articles: Movies, All

Be Cool

A Different Industry, But The Same Old Hustle

The sequel to 1995's Get Shorty is much like its predecessor: smart, tongue-in-cheek and, what else, cool. But with most things that age -- it's a little bit saggier, has a few more wrinkles and has lost the edge it once possessed. John Travolta returns as Chili Palmer, a retired shylock whom now wants to get into the music industry (the first film shows him getting into the movie industry). There are plenty of cameos from the previous film as well as a whole new set of people for which Chili to say, "I want you to look at me."

In the world that Palmer frequents, the mafia seems to run everything. In Get Shorty they had their hands in the movie industry and here it's the music industry. I wonder what'll come next - a movie about the hospital industry entitled Get Well or perhaps something about the publishing industry?

Be Cool opens with a great scene that sets up the whole movie in the über-self-reflexive awareness that has become a mark of hipness in films. As Chili's friend Tommy Athens (James Woods) tells it: there's a beautiful girl, the Russian mafia, gangsters, and music producers gone awry. The 'girl' here is Linda Moon (a lackluster Christina Milian), a singer with a lot of talent and horrible management in the form of Nick Carr (Harvey Keitel) and Raji (a washed-out looking Vince Vaughn). When Chili catches one of her performances, it becomes the impetus for him to get into the music industry, and so he tries to steal her away from Carr and Raji. However, the company he decides to inadvertently join, run by Edie (Uma Thurman), is in debt to Sin LaSalle (Cedric the Entertainer) a violent producer with a gang of very big and intimidating 'negotiators'.

Cedric, has a great scene in which he beats the program director at a local radio station with a spatula so that he will play his band's album. And Vince Vaughn, affecting a (black) gangster's inflections, is irritatingly funny throughout. But The Rock, as Raji's hapless homosexual sidekick, delivers the biggest standout performance; he sticks every scene in which he is granted lines. One in particular has him performing a monologue from Bring it On, which will have you laughing out loud.

There are also Pulp Fiction references galore down to a reprisal of Travolta and Thurman's dance scene, but a lot more gratuitous and less cool. If you liked Get Shorty, you'll like this movie. Be Cool is entertaining, has a great soundtrack and will satisfy your soft spot for Chili Palmer.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5