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Be Cool

Be Cool is supposed to be the hip and funny sequel to Get Shorty which was a surprisingly hip and funny Hollywood insider pic from a few years back which starred John Travolta as this character Chili Palmer. In Shorty, Palmer was a man of few words who brought a no nonsense, pragmatic gangster approach to a place that is anything but. In Cool, he is still out in California for some reason and decides he's bored with films and wants to get into the music business. When he sees young Linda Moon Christina Milian (right) performing at the Viper Room, he thinks he has his ticket to success. Of course it can't be that simple since the music business is like many things in the modern world and especially in Southern California where the one talented person in the mix finds themselves surrounded by chiselers, losers, managers, and hangers on with no talent themselves that are hoping to get a half of a half percent of the action. Palmer then clashes with an assortment of thugs and players led by Vince Vaughn, Cedric the Entertainer and Harvey Keitel all vying for Miss Moon's services and arguing over who owes who what for basically doing nothing. It all gets sorted out with Palmer prevailing after really not doing much more than standing around in a black suit, dancing with Uma Thurman and, well, being cool.

Sounds on paper and in trailers like it could be a pretty entertaining film and it does have a few moments but it basically isn't supported by much of a story or any substance to fortify the small tale it does roll out. It is a film that seems determined to make fun of itself and it's prequel, along with other pop culture staples and contains plenty of cameos and other references to Hollywood but seems to lack a cohesive center from which to operate. The self awareness starts immediately with Palmer explaining that the movie business is too fickle because you can only say the F word once in a PG-13 film and he then blurts it out gratuitously just to get it out of the way in this one. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith soon shows up onscreen and explains, while playing himself, that he's proud of the fact that he hasn't had to stoop so low as to play himself in a movie. Travolta dances at one point for no reason supported by the plot explaining, "I'm from Brooklyn." apparently in reference to his Pulp Fiction scene which was, in turn, referencing his Saturday Night Fever character. Vince Vaughn plays an agent who thinks he's black and basically, well. that's the whole joke and he's on the screen talking jive for half the film. The Rock is supposed to be gay and Harvey Keitel plays himself again and Cedric the Entertainer has a big entourage and the Russian Mafia gets involved. While all of this could be funny if interwoven with some sort of suspenseful tale of intrigue, or at least a developed storyline, none of it is funny particularly here with the best moments of the film coming when two different characters try to sit in a particularly uncomfortable chair (right). None of the performances are bad necessarily, it's just that, without a plot or good writing, even these luminous stars end up falling flat especially since the previews contained all of the key scenes. Uma looks good, and Cedric has some funny lines about racial stereotypes and, well, Chili is pretty cool. It just could have been so much more that sitting through it as is ends up being a disappointing experience.

 

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