Be Cool…. well, not so cool. Like Michael Crichton’s The Lost World, this Elmore Leonard novel sequel was written after the success of the film version of Get Shorty was a hit. The book, in which former shylock Chili Palmer (John Travolta) decides to leave the film biz and go into the music biz. I didn’t particularly think the book was very good, and so I didn’t expect the movie would be much better.
I was right.
Right off the bat, you can tell there are a few problems with this thing. First, all of the slick coolness is gone, and replaced with racial humor. Yawn. How 1992. See, it’s “funny” when Raji (Vince Vaughn) is a white guy who thinks he’s black. And how successful artist Sin LaSalle (Cedric the Entertainer) has a classical Ivy-League education, and is more eloquent than the gansta crew he hangs out with. And how the Russian Mafia is basically, well, Russian.
The plot is pretty simple: Chili (Travolta) wants to get Linda Moon (Christina Milian) out of her contract with Raji and Nick Carr (Harvey Keitel), and bring her to Edie Athens’ (Uma Thurman) record label. Of course, they aren’t willing to go without a fight, and with the Russian mob involved, and a crew of gangsta rappers who want the money they’re owed for their hit records, well, it gets messy. Oh, and Raji’s bodyguard Elliot (The Rock), is a tough guy who is gay and wants to be an actor – so he’s easily charmed by Chili’s suave way of doing business.
Unlike Get Shorty, this film has no style. Barry Sonnenfeld’s tight camerawork and pacing is missing from this film. It could have been directed by just about anybody. The Rock is the best part of the film, because he makes fun of himself, and even sings and dances. But for the most part, we’re subjected to a one-hit wonder in Linda Moon, except that she gets to play with Aerosmith. (Steven Tyler is looking as freaky as ever!) How, you ask, does she get to do this? Well, turns out that Edie used to be their laundry girl on the road back in the day. And that just goes to show you that it’s not about talent, but about who you know.
If you really wanna see this film, rent Get Shorty. That film was much cooler than Be Cool, which couldn’t even live up to the title.