Be Cool (2/10)
by Tony Medley
As I was exiting the screening,
the young lady in front of me turned to her companion and said, “Stupid,”
and she wasn’t talking about her companion. That about sums up this
squalid piece of nonsense that trivializes murder and violence.
A sequel to the mildly
entertaining “Get Shorty” (1995) which rejuvenated John Travolta’s dormant
career, “Be Cool” is disjointed and not particularly funny. “Get Shorty”
had the advantage of having Gene Hackman in the cast, which generally at
least adds quality to the movie. Actually, taking Hackman’s place as sort
of a co-star is Vince Vaughn, who, along with The Rock’s right eyebrow,
the flashy color, and one short segment in which Travolta dances, are the only good things
about this film. Vaughn plays Raji a white guy who talks like he’s black.
It’s funny for awhile, but Vaughn stays in character for the entire film
and finally gets tiresome.
Travolta is Chili Palmer once
again, but this time he’s trying to get in the music business, which gets
him involved with Sin LaSalle (Cedric the Entertainer) and a bunch of
stereotyped black rapper-hoodlum types who carry big guns. The Rock plays
Elliot Wilhelm who is so gay that when he does a video of him singing to
give to Chili to break into the movies he’s singing “You Ain’t Woman
Enough,” a song clearly meant to be sung by a woman.
Although studios will deny it,
I’m convinced they hire professional laughers as shills for some of these
screenings. I have been seated next to the same guy at least three times
who laughs deep, loud belly laughs at things that aren’t even remotely
funny. I was stuck in the same row with him at this screening and his
inane laughter at nothing made a bad movie worse.
There’s no purpose to try to
synopsize the plot because it’s so idiotic and incoherent that I couldn’t
if I had to. Right at the beginning Chili tells his erstwhile buddy, Tommy
Athens (James Woods), that a story idea Athens is pitching him “has a bad
premise,” indicating that Chili didn’t learn much in “Get Shorty” because
what Tommy was pitching didn’t have any premise at all I guess that
screenwriter Peter Steinfeld thought he could throw in a big word his
script shows he doesn’t understand and that nobody would notice.
Chili himself is a man without
emotion or fear. He walks into dangerous situations without a second
thought and always emerges unscathed. Apparently there are lots of
characters in the film who want to eliminate him, but when they have the
chance, when he’s in their lairs unarmed and unprotected, they don’t raise
Not only is the film nonsensical, I don’t understand John Travolta. I’m
beginning to suspect he’s not a candidate to become a nuclear physicist.
He clearly has the aura of a star. He’s a big man. He’s attractive. He can
dance. He’s a pretty good actor. He’s got loads of charisma. But he
continues to pick scripts that can only be described as woeful. Add to
that the fact that he still insists on inserting at least one smoking
scene in all his films, and one wonders what I.Q lurks beneath the
Hollywood Star surface. If he’d wise up he would look for a script that
includes a lot of dancing because the best part of the man is that he is
an exceptional dancer.
The color is good and Travolta
shows that he is a master of the dance floor in a ballroom scene with
Thurman, but, in the end, this is nothing more than glitzy trash.
March 2, 2005