Thursday, May 12, 2005

Be Cool : Reviewed by A Guy Who Never Even Bothered to See The Flick

If you’re going to “Be Cool” expecting an encore of the well-crafted and directed “Get Shorty” from 1995, then you’d better rent “Battlefield Earth” first. Just to get some perspective. No, it’s not THAT bad, but seeing it first might make “Be Cool” seem a lot better. An adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s book, this film lacks most of the charm and all of the humor that director Sonnenfeld brought to the original film. The title is more likely a plea for the plethora of guest stars to somehow extract any measure of “coolness” they can from this watered-down-Kool-Aid flavored film featuring icon John Travolta.

Rather than list who is in this film, perhaps a list of who ISN’T is more appropriate. There hasn’t been a bigger waste of good characters with hackneyed one-liners since the Russian mob forced studios to quit making “Naked Gun” movies. Travolta’s Chili Palmer character is hip as always but the train wreck of a script around him makes even that egg-laying Godzilla plot seem plausible. And it’s still undecided if director L. Gary Gray or screenwriter Peter Steinfeld should be given the concrete goulashes on this one.

The premise of “Be Cool” has Chili branching out into the music industry after the president of a record company is murdered. Anyone who’s seen the music charts recently knows that’s a losing proposition, but it gets even more preposterous. Chili is out to make real life recording artist Christina Milian into a star and seeks out the record president’s widow for help. And as cinema fate would have it, the guy’s widow is Uma Thurman! Naturally, you get the obligatory Travolta and Uma dance scene…cut and hacked to pieces. You even get a Cedric The Entertainer dance scene….hammed up, over inflated and blown to bits. How can you possibly screw all of that up? Well, not having Tarantino directing for one. Gray’s attention-deficit style of film editing created more lack of continuity carnage than “Kill Bill”. Or maybe having the terminally “unhip” directing a hip story about hip characters doing hip things just isn’t wise.

Regardless to where the fault lies, the film is not a complete loss. Where it fits in the larger scheme of the Travolta’s character development is plain to see. “Be Cool” is both a sequel and a prequel. The “Get Shorty” sequel reveals “Chili” to actually be “Vincent Vega” from “Pulp Fiction”, before he went to France and became a humorless heroin addict. But if we’re lucky, we won’t have to suffer through all that anytime soon. That would “be cruel”.

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