Directed by F. Gary Gray ("The
Italian Job", "Friday").
Written by Peter Steinfeld. Based on the novel by Elmore
Starring John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Vince Vaughn and The Rock.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 3/19/05
For a long time, I had "Get Shorty", the
1995 comedy based on Elmore Leonard's Chili Palmer novel, in my
Matinee rating description; it was alright, entertained you while
you were sitting there, and about an hour after you left the
theater, it was harmlessly fluttering away from your internal hard
With "Be Cool", the sequel to that earlier
film, you have a movie that no one really asked for, that won't win
any awards, and will also receive my Matinee rating. But at
least with "Be Cool", there are some memorable moments that make it
worth seeing on the big screen.
Palmer (played again by John Travolta) is a
former thug that found his way into producing films in Hollywood in
the previous film...now, he wants to break into the record business,
especially after he meets a down-and-out R&B diva named Linda Moon
(real-life recording artist Christina Milian) that has the voice of
a big-time star. So, he enlists the help of long-time friend
and record producer Edie Athens (Uma Thurman) to try and help Linda
lock up a contract with a new company. The problem?
Well, Linda's already under contract with another record company,
led by a guy named Nick (Harvey Keitel) that won't let her out of
her current deal. Further complicating matters is that Edie
owes a ton of money to the leading record remixer in the business,
Sin LaSalle (Cedric the Entertainer), so Chili will have to also
help dig Edie out of her big financial hole.
Much like "Get Shorty", "Be Cool" tries to
keep things moving by having too much going on at the same
time...not that this makes things complicated, but it just means
that we have to sit through a variety of characters that serve no
purpose but to make Palmer look really cool. This is
unfortunate, because Chili and Edie are pretty boring to follow
around, Linda is stuck mostly showing off her voice (which is a
great voice, but her scenes essentially put the film on pause),
Keitel is useless and a Russian mob angle is kind of silly.
What does that leave us? The two parts of the movie worth
fighting for: Sin's collection of rappers/thugs and Linda's
former manager, Raji (Vince Vaughn) and Raji's driver/bodyguard
Elliot Wilhelm (The Rock).
Cedric the Entertainer is hilarious as the
Ivy League-trained Sin; Sin has taken on a certain white facade in
his home life, but when he gets into it with others in the record
business, he is the 40-year-old black guy that is trying to keep
some street cred. As a result, you get hilarious moments like
when he walks out to his front yard and greets an older white woman
with "Top of the morning!", or when he shows up at a meeting with
Edie wearing a throwback jersey on top of a blue oxford shirt.
Unbelievably hilarious stuff...and, as sidekick Dabu, Andre 3000 of
Outkast does great work too.
But, "Be Cool" lives and dies by the success
of Vaughn and The Rock; these two put the film on its back almost
throughout to give it the only consistent comedy around. The
Rock won't win the Oscar for this work, but he should, because with
this film he actually gives you the feeling he would be able to act
in more serious work in later life. As the gay
bodyguard/aspiring film star, he almost steals the whole movie with
its best scene, where he auditions for Palmer by doing a "monologue"
of "Bring It On." Vaughn, from his laugh to his best wigger
impersonations to his stunned reactions to things that are obvious
to the audience, flashes the talent that once again makes you
scratch your head over why he has made so many bad choices early in
In fact, you almost wish the movie was
called "Raji and the Bodyguard", so that way we would only have to
watch those two go through the motions. As it is, so much more
of "Be Cool" is bad--and, it has one of those scripts that tries to
be cute by making little references to film and its rules...mostly
to ill effect. And, it starts right away:
Palmer: "D'you know that if a movie is
not rated R, you can only use the f-word one time?...Well, you know
what I think? Fuck that!"
Ugh. A dance scene with Travolta and
Thurman runs about five minutes too long; worse, it's done over a
Black Eyed Peas song, who seem to have embraced the role of
commercial sellout at nearly every opportunity, "Be Cool" included.
Then you have cameos like one by James Woods, who fails to register
a laugh in his five minutes of screen time, or Harvey Keitel, who
just seems like a mismatch for his part.
Like I said, it's an average film, but at
least "Be Cool" has some really funny shit to talk about with your
friends later. That's better than I thought it would be!
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard