Be Cool

| March 6, 2005

“I hate sequels” is the first line of Be Cool, establishing immediately that director F. Gary Grey knows that he knows that WE know that HE knows that Be Cool is a sequel and that there is always a certain amount of eye raising with sequels that don’t have a little droid that speaks in beeps and whistles. And it is this type of game playing that abounds in the sequel to Get Shorty, where we find our past hero Chili Palmer, former gangster turned movie producer, disenchanted with the movie business only to fall into something less back stabbing… The music industry.
To Palmer (played by John Travolta), the music industry seems the perfect next step. This is because we are led to believe that in the music industry everyone carries a handgun and a cell phone and use them equally as often. This is without the intrusion of the police who in this film seem to fill the role of Janitor, simply making appearances to mop up the bodies and arrest whomever Palmer decides should lose the game of Who Owns The Record Contract. And this movie does revolve around the ownership of an up and coming singer Linda Moon’s (Christina Milian from Man of the House, Torque) and her contract.
Fighting for this contract are Travolta (Pulp Fiction, Ladder 49) , on behalf of his new partner Uma Thurman’s record label; Harvey Keitel (National Treasure, Pulp Fiction), a competitor who currently owns the contract; Cedric the Entertainer (Barbershop, Serving Sara), a producer owed $300,000 by Thurman (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill); and the Russian Mob, who aren’t really looking for the contract as much as just the money. Yea, it’s confusing… In fact, it’s all really a loose trail of events between the jokes and stereotypes and jokes ABOUT stereotypes that abound. I almost expected Phil Spector (he IS in custody, right) to appear on screen to “pop a cap in someone’s ass.” Instead, Cedric’s “crew,” a Hummer Driving, Gun Toting, Violence Promoting, theoretical music group that we never see sing a note is on hand to “represent” the entire rap/hiphop/urban/westcoast/eastcoast/SnoopDoggloving/FakerPDiddy portion of the industry.
If you are looking for deep, intellectual, mentally stimulating characters you should probably shop for another movie. It is taken for granted that we KNOW about Palmer and his background. Keitel is a kill first, produce music later kind of guy. Thurman is on one hand an old veteran of the creative side industry and on the other completely stupid when it comes to the business end. Vince Vaughn (who I loved in Anchorman, Old School and Made) plays a stereotypical Black Man Stuck in a White Man’s Body Wannabe Hoodlum that gets really tired and annoying by his second scene (raise your hand if you know what I mean). And the Russian mobsters? Think any other movie you have seen this type of character in and you need go no further.
There are a couple of great things in the acting area of the film. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (The Run Down, Walking Tall) is tremendous in a sideways, out of character sort of way, poking fun of his normal tough guy persona. Here he plays a gay bodyguard that no one is willing to take seriously. If you like The Rock and his work, you will be happy to know that in the next 2 years, he already has 5 more movies in the pipeline. Cedric, who has SIX upcoming films, gives one fantastic minute-long soliloquy on racism in the industry that was put in here for the single reason that it is sure to be quoted for years by auditioning actors like the Brimstone and Rage scene done by Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.
Speaking of Pulp Fiction, if you long for another scene in which Thurman and Travolta dance like they did there… Pony up your dollars for a front row seat here. Otherwise, you can wait for this as a rental because though it is loooooooong on making fun of stereotypes, it is a funny movie and that is why we go to see films- to be entertained.

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