PLOT: Chili Palmer, the pleasant wiseguy from Miami who enters the movie business in Get Shorty, takes on the music business in this sequel. Along the way he has to deal with gangster rappers, Russian mobsters, garden-variety music industry crooks, singers, dames and Steve Tyler.
A decade after the success of Get Shorty, Elmore Leonard's gentleman gangster returns in Be Cool.
Chili Palmer (John Travolta) discovered in the first film that his mob skills were a perfect fit for those required by a movie producer. In this outing, his gangster training proves just right for the music business, too. He goes about protecting the innocent, hurting the guilty and generally evening the score, and this time, you can dance to it.
Palmer looks mildly interested in the inept drive-by shooting that opens the film. That incident leads him to the Viper Room, where he meets a young singer (Christina Milian) who hopes to be in a movie.
Instead, Chili gets involved in her career and in the music business. In short order, he encounters a vile music executive (Harvey Keitel), a rap mogul (Cedric The Entertainer), a rap thug (Andre Benjamin, who is the most amusing character in the movie) a record exec/gangsta wannabe (Vince Vaughn, channelling Fitty), a gay bodyguard (The Rock) and an indie label owner/love interest (Uma Thurman). There are cameo appearances from Danny DeVito, Anna Nicole Smith, Steve Tyler, Fred Durst, Sergio Mendes, Seth Green, Debi Mazar, James Woods and just about anyone else you can think of, alive or dead, including Robert Pastorelli, thrown in for good measure.
What a wad of star wattage, no? Look at those star names! And keep looking, because that's really all that's going on here, a la Oceans Twelve.
The film jumps from cute incident to cute incident. The laughs rest on race, creed, colour, dialect, bad toupes and orientation. There's a running gag about The Rock being a tough guy who's gay, a running gag about Vaughn acting black and a running gag about gangster rappers. Be Cool hopes to be an equal-opportunity insult package, but where there might be edge or wit or fresh observation, there's just dumb shock value.
And then there are the musical numbers. Black Eyed Peas perform, as do Aerosmith and Christina Milian. The Rock does a song and dance number. It's all sort of strange. There is no logic or anything pesky like that to Be Cool, but the huge, glossy cast makes it very easy to look at. Pleasant. Amusing.
(This film is rated 14-A)
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