Be Cool Review

by Susan Granger (ssg722 AT aol DOT com)
March 5th, 2005

Susan Granger's review of "Be Cool" (MGM Pictures)
    John Travolta reprises his role of Chili Palmer, the super-smooth, Brooklyn-born loan-shark-turned-Hollywood movie producer, in this sequel to the 1995 comedy hit "Get Shorty." But now Chili has expanded his horizons to the "less corporate" music business.
    So when the head of an independent record label (James Woods) is unexpectedly killed by Russian mobsters, Chili quickly approaches his widow (Uma Thurman), pitching himself as her new business partner. The up-and-coming pop star that Chili's promoting is a Beyonce-like R&B chanteuse Linda Moon (Christina Milian) whom Steven Tyler (as himself) agrees to let open for Aerosmith at L.A.'s Staples Center. Chili's problem is the goons who own her contract - a sleazy manager (Harvey Keitel), a music producer (Cedric the Entertainer) and a trigger-happy nephew (Andre 3000 of OutKast). Then there's the wannabe gansta Raji (Vince Vaughn) and his overtly gay Samoan bodyguard Elliot (The Rock), who's so eager for a screen test that he breaks into Chili's house with an audition tape of him singing Loretta Lynn's "You're Not Woman Enough."
    While Elmore Leonard's "Be Cool" (1999) was a hip satire, Peter Steinfeld's inert screenplay abandons all that cleverness, veering into stereotypical burlesque. And director F. Gary Gray ("The Italian Job") allows the actors to mug shamelessly, chewing the scenery in scene-after-scene, making it look like a live-action cartoon. Clad in black, John Travolta is unimpressive as the straight man, even when he dances with Uma Thurman to the Black Eyed Peas' "Sexy." On the other hand, The Rock rocks! On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Be Cool" chills with a 5. It just isn't cool. Or, as Chili Palmer himself complains, "I got suckered into doing the sequel."

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