Film Reviews

BE COOL

By • Mar 4th, 2005 •

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QUOTE: Painful to sit through. Except for Travolta & Thurman’s dance, this is awful. Product placement everywhere and only Aerosmith’s Joe Perry & The Rock keep their dignity.

If you ever have questioned the importance of the director, see BE COOL. It is a lesson in playbook. The undeniable magnetism of a thinner John Travolta is arguably here, but he and his co-star from PULP FICTION, Uma Thurman, desperately suffer from not having the guidance of Quentin Tarantino.

The direction, the editing, the tempo are all wrong. The story is messy and uninteresting. The characters are cartoons.

The genius of what Tarantino did with Travolta and Thurman looms over BE COOL. I kept thinking: “Gosh, Thurman was so good in KILL BILL 1 & 2. What happened?” Here, they are amateurs with Thurman over-acting as a sweet, but dim-lit, indie music exec. While Travolta “keeps his Chili Palmer cool,” all the other characters, except The Rock and Andre Benjamin (as cousin Dabu), make fools of themselves. If you must play an outrageous character, the key is to play the role with sincerity. In BE COOL, the director, F. Gary Gray, situates all the players as little one-person movies. There is no connection between any of the characters. Everyone is in their own movie announcing their dialogue. No one connects though they effectively do commercials for products.

Chili Palmer (Travolta) wants out of his successful movie career. While he is a certified success, everyone still reminds him he is a former loanshark. When an associate, Tommy Athens (James Woods) gets murdered by the Russian Mob, Palmer adopts his budding R&B singer Linda Moon (Christina Milian) and his widow Edie (Thurman). To manager Moon, Palmer waltzes into music mogul Nick (Harvey Keitel) Carr’s office and simply demands her contract. Seems Palmer does not like the way Carr’s junior associate Raji (Vince Vaughn) talks to her. Meanwhile, Edie is in debt to a rival producer, Sin LaSalle (Cedric the Entertainer). Now, way back in the 70s Edie did Aerosmith’s laundry and Steven Tyler still remembers the smell of lilac in his underpants. Though Tyler obviously hasn’t kept up with her record label business. Tyler, who somehow turned up in THE POLAR EXPRESS, is getting a lot of cameo work right now. Who is his brilliant Hollywood agent and does he also handle Fergie from THE BLACK EYED PEAS?

The screenplay by Peter Steinfeld has some nicely worded lines, delivered with ease and style by Travolta. But it is the director who should take the blame for blowing the sexy, snarly charm of GET SHORTY.

There has been a lot of publicity about the breakout role of The Rock as Raji’s gay bodyguard, Elliot Wilhelm. This is because The Rock not only embraces his role, he appears to be enjoying himself and involved with his character. Everyone else is mugging for the camera.

A friend of mine has read the book by Elmore Leonard this movie is based on. While she said the book was fabulous, she also admitted the movie was a huge disappointment. After seeing BE COOL, no one could get me to read the book unless it included the address for THE ARK OF THE COVENANT.

Though, I must say, with a film so laden with product placement, I was sure I would see Travolta with the Pepsi logo stamped on his forehead. See the movie and count the products!

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