Crazy, sexy, cool

LOUIS B. HOBSON - Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:37 AM ET

The coolest thing about Be Cool is how well director F. Gary Gray balances the wild and nutty with the blissfully calm.

On the one hand you've got Vince Vaughn playing Raji, a music agent who tries to channel his inner black rapper persona.

Think Jamie Kennedy's Malibu's Most Wanted and rev it up a dozen or so notches. Vaughn pulls it off without a hitch.

Then there's Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson as Elliot Wilhelm, Raji's gay bodyguard who wants to be a country singer and an actor.

Johnson's audition scene and his preening in front of a mirror while trying on skin tight slacks and cowboy boots are so hysterical they defy description.

Not to be upstaged is real-life rapper Andre 'Andre 3000' Benjamin as the dim witted, psychopathic rapper Dabu, a twitchy, emotional powder keg.

Gray pits Vaughn, Johnson and Benjamin against John Travolta's Chili Palmer, the former Miami hitman of Get Shorty who is now bored with being a successful film producer.

Chili wants to try his hand at managing a singer or even a music company and still have time to romance his best friend's widow, the sexy Edie Athens (Uma Thurman).

Travolta seems to be sleepwalking through his role as the calmest, coolest man in L.A.

He knows exactly what he's doing and how to get maximum laughs from his deadpan expressions.

Thurman is a little more hyper, but that's because Edie is not used to dealing with society's darker rogues.

As the film progresses, Edie begins to emulate Chili, so that when they dance together, it's clear they were meant to be lovers and not just business partners.

There's genuine electricity between Travolta and Thurman, not just Chili and Edie. The two have danced together before in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.

As Linda Moon, the singer with promise but a bad record contract, Christina Milian has the voice but Gray and screenwriter Peter Steinfeld don't give her enough to do to show whether she has the acting chops to match.

Her duet with Aerosmith's Steven Tyler is pure dynamite, but we need to see some of that spitefire energy when she's dealing with Vaughn, Cedric the Entertainer, Harvey Keitel and Travolta.

Be Cool is a sly comedy that showcases the kind of endearing and memorable characters you want to spend more time with.

Hopefully Chili and the gang will turn their attention and charms on the television industry because two outings are simply not enough.

(This film is rated 14-A)


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