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Be Cool - Widescreen Edition

 

Rating: PG-13

Distributor: MGM Home Entertainment

Release Date: June 7, 2005
Review posted: May 31, 2005

 

Reviewed by Dylan Grant

 

SYNOPSIS

 

When Chili Palmer (John Travolta) decides to try his hand in the music industry, he romances the sultry widow (Uma Thurman) of a recently whacked music exec, poaches a hot young singer (Christina Milian) from a rival manager and discovers that the record industry is packin’ a whole lot more than a tune!

 

CRITIQUE

 

Chili Palmer is one of the most memorable characters John Travolta has ever created, right up there with Vincent Vega and Tony Manero.  Get Shorty (1995) was his follow up to Pulp Fiction, and Travolta was clearly at home in the role, and the film was all the better for it.  Unfortunately, they just couldn’t leave well enough alone, following up that memorable film with this, Be Cool, a virtual textbook on how to make a cinematic mess.

 

The best sequels are those that pick up where the original film left off, yet can be followed easily even by viewers who are new to the franchise, and that is one of the few good things that can be said about this film.  In the first few minutes, we are brought up to speed on who Chili is and what he has been up to.  It all goes downhill from there, as one cardboard character after another shows up to make Chili’s life miserable.

 

It is not just that Be Cool is bad.  The film is bad in a boring way, lacking any evidence of the cleverness of the original film.  What were the filmmakers thinking when they were developing this turkey?  Any scenes not rehashed from the ‘95 film are a hopeless shambles.  The film is self-referential to a fault: “I’m not one of those singers who needs to do movies,” says Steven Tyler in one scene.  When we first see Chili he passes a billboard for his latest project and laments to himself about sequels.  Be Cool is set in the music business - which by some accounts probably is as cutthroat as it is made to look here - but there are musical numbers that go on waaaaay too long and have little to do with the actual story; they come off like mere filler, growing quickly tiresome.

 

The story is not the only thing that grows tiresome.  The characters that inhabit the music industry of Be Cool are some of the most aggravating, unwatchable characters in recent film history.  Sin LaSalle (Cedric the Entertainer) threatens an A&R man while waving to his daughter and neighbor in his ritzy suburb.  He is the Wharton Business School grad who is playing gangster.  Elliot Wilhelm (The Rock) is the gay bodyguard trying his hardest to be as star.  He made a video for his cover of “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man,” and he has prepared a monologue from Bring It On.  The Rock is playing a gay guy.  Get it?  (Director F. Gary Gray said that in shooting the video for “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man,” they were trying to make it bad on purpose, an example of how not to make a video.  He must have really wanted to make the point clear, as he made Be Cool in much the same way.)

 

Harvey Keitel is wasted in the role of Nick Carr, the criminal manager.  Those characters, as lame as they are, might be forgivable if it were not for Vince Vaughn.  Vaughn plays Raji, a wigger, a low end manager, a wannabe hustler decked out in the gaudy pimp style that shows he has probably seen Pimps Up, Hoes Down one too many times.  Vaughn does something incredible here: he takes a bad movie and manages to make it worse; he ruins every scene he is in.  Raji is probably supposed to be comic relief (??), but it only takes a few scenes before we want to see him die a horrible death.  When Sin LaSalle’s cronies dangle him off the roof of a building, the suspense was incredible, as I was waiting breathlessly, hoping they would drop him.  Vaughn gets too much screen time here, and the film is all the worse for it.

 

Travolta phones in his performance this time around.  Chili seems less in control of things now, and the film is hijacked by characters that are far less interesting to watch.  Nothing is added to the Chili Palmer mystique; we do not learn anything new.  The highlight of the film is Uma Thurman, who has little to do here but looks absolutely ravishing.  She is one of those rare actresses who looks better now than she did when she was 19.  She is unbelievably sexy here, and it is a shame that her character is not more fleshed out.

 

Be Cool is a pointless, jumbled mess that probably would have been half as long had someone only trimmed the indulgent filler.  The film spends so much time going nowhere that after a while we just don’t care.  Over and over I was reminded of Get Shorty, and that is really the point here.  If you find yourself getting the urge to see this movie, rent Get Shorty instead.  They got it right the first time.

 

THE VIDEO

 

Be Cool is presented in the original 2.40:1 widescreen ratio.  The transfer is crisp, expertly preserving the film’s wide color palate.  The black and white levels are sharply rendered, and the overall picture is free of any degradation.

 

THE AUDIO

 

This DVD is presented in 5.1 Dolby Surround.  The presentation is quite good, especially in the film’s many musical numbers.  All channels come through sharply, free of any discernible distortion.  There is also an optional French language track presented in Stereo Surround.

 

THE EXTRAS

 

Be Cool, Very Cool” Making of Documentary: The cast and crew talks about picking up where Get Shorty left off, the story, the characters, and how it all came together.  (22:00)

 

Deleted Scenes: 14 deleted scenes and extended cuts.  There is some amusing stuff here.

 

Gag Reel: As blooper reels go, this one is fairly long, the cast blowing their lines and mugging for the camera.  (7:00)

 

Music Video: The Rock as Elliot Wilhelm “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man”: Introduced by the director, this is the complete cut of the video we see in the film.

 

Close Up: Dance Partners: A look at the dance sequence with John Travolta and Uma Thurman.  We see how it was choreographed and filmed.

 

Close Up: The Rock: A closer look at The Rock and the character he plays here.  We also get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the video for “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man.”

 

Close Up: Andre 3000: In his first movie role, Andre 3000 plays, surprise, a rapper.  Here he talks about creating the character and working with Gray.

 

Close Up: Cedric the Entertainer: Gray and the producers talk about casting The Entertainer in the role of “the bad guy,” and Cedric talks about creating the character.

 

Close Up: Christina Milian: Milian talks about creating the Linda Moon character, the role with probably the biggest arc in the film.

 

Theatrical Trailer: The original theatrical trailer.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

Be Cool is one of the most ironically titled films in recent memory.  Aside from being a sequel that no one was looking for, the film is shoddy from beginning to end, its lazy writing and clichéd story line becoming quickly unbearable.  The bonus materials are of minor interest, but they are mostly superficial and do little to sate what curiosity one might have.  The best that can be said for this mess is that Uma looks great, and the film reminds us of Get Shorty, a film much more worthy of your time.

 

VERDICT: SKIP IT

 

Home | Back to Top

 

:: The DVD

 

:: DVD Ratings

 

THE MOVIE

4

THE VIDEO

8

THE AUDIO

8

THE EXTRAS

7

OVERALL

5

 

:: Merchandise