Be Cool (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
July 28, 2011 by Dennis Amith
The sequel to “Get Shorty”, “Be Cool” comes nowhere near the quality of the first film. But for a popcorn comedy film, “Be Cool” has plenty of stars, plenty of music and for the most part, ends up being a fun film. If you are looking for a comedy on Blu-ray, don’t hesitate in giving “Be Cool” a try.
Images courtesy of ©2005 Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Be Cool
FILM RELEASE DATE: 2005
DURATION: 120 minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Surround, French 5.1 DTS, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French
RATED: PG-13 (Violence, Sensuality and Language Including Sexual References)
COMPANY: Jersey Films/Twentieth Century Fox/MGM
RELEASE DATE: July 5, 2011
Directed by F. Gary
Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
Screenplay by Peter Steinfeld
Produced by Danny De Vito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher
Executive Producer: F. Gary Gray, Elmore Leonard, Michael Siegel
Associate Producer: Anson Downes
Music by John Powell
Cinematography by Jeffrey L. Kimball
Edited by Sheldon Kahn
Casting by Sheila Jaffe, Georgianne Walken
Production Design by Michael Corenblith
Art Direction by Lauren E. Polizzi, Dan Webster
Set Decoration by Denise Pizzini
Costume Design by Mark Bridges, Betsy Heimann
John Travolta as Chili Palmer
Uma Thurman as Edie Athens
Vince Vaughn as Raji
Cedric the Entertainer as Sin LaSalle
Andre Benjamin as Dabu
Steven Tyler as Himself
Robert Pastorelli as Joe Loop
Christina Milian as Linda Moon
Paul Adelstein as Hy Gordon
Debi Mazar as Maria
Gergory Alan Williams as Darryl
Harvey Keitel as Nick Carr
Dwayne Johnson as Elliot Wilhelm
Danny De vito as Martin Weir
James Woods as Tommy Athens
Wyclef Jean asHimself
Fred Durst as Himself
Sergio Mendes as Himself
Gene Simmons as Hismself
RZA as Himself
Joe Perry as Himself
Anna Nicole Smith as Herself
Be Cool is the wildly hilarious tale about a gangster turned music mogul and what it takes to be number one with a bullet. When Chili Palmer (Travolta) decides to try his hand in the music industry, he romances thesultry widow (Thurman) of a recently whacked music exec, poaches a hot young singer (Christina Milian) from a rival label and discovers that the record industry is packin’ a whole lot more than a tune!
With the success of the 1990 Elmore Leonard novel and the 1995 film “Get Shorty”, there was no doubt that Leonard’s sequel would be made.
With many of Leonard’s stories being made to films from “3:10 to Yuma” and “The Tall T” and the TV series “Justified”, the gangster film “Get Shorty” was a box office success and also received nominations in the American Film Institute’s “AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Laughs” but also “AFI’s 10 Top 10”.
To preface a little about what “Get Shorty” was all about, the film focused on a Miami Loan Shark named Chili Palmer (played by John Travolta) who clashes with another mobster. In the film, Palmer meets with an actor named Martin Weir (played by Danny DeVito) to star in his life story. In the film, Palmer is supposed to collect a lot of money but because of his movie ambitions, people want their money back and end up pursuing each other.
This now leads to “Be Cool”, a comedy film produced by Danny De Vito and directed by F. Gary Gray (“The Italian Job”, “Law Abiding Citizen”, “The Negotiator”, “Friday”) and a loosely based screenplay adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel by Peter Steinfeld (“21”, “Analyze That”, “Drowning Mona”).
In “Be Cool”, Chili Palmer (Travolta) has become a successful producer in Hollywood while Weir (DeVito) has become a popular actor. Seeing how Weir has become a star has made Chili a bit disenchanted with Hollywood and talks about how he may want to return to the loanshark lifestyle.
Meanwhile his friend, music producer, Tommy Athens (played by James Woods) asks if Chili can produce a film about his life of resurrecting a record company through a wonderful talented younger singer named Linda Moon (played by Christina Milian).
Chili feels that before he can even consider a film, he needs to know more about the details. So, when Palmer goes to the bathroom for a brief moment, someone drives by Athens, comes out of the car and guns him down.
When Chili goes to check out who did it, he sees a man with a toupee. The man tries to kill Chili, because saw the man’s face but he runs out of bullets and escapes.
Tommy Athens murder leads to a few related storylines.
Chili goes to check out this Linda Moon at a club and learns that she can sing! When he talks to her, he learns that she signed with Nick Carr (played by Harvey Keitel) and that her naivety of being a star led her signing a contract and now she is forced to sing in dumps by Carr’s employee Roger “Raji” Lowenthall (played by Vince Vaughn), a white man who talks like a Black man and his muscular gay bodyguard Elliot Wilhelm who desperately wants to be an actor (played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson).
Tired of seeing how Raji treats Linda, Chili tells him immediately that she is no longer with Nick Carr and that she is now being managed by him. When Elliot tries to fight, Chili tells him that he can help him get an audition and in the process, Chili pretends he knocks out Elliot (which Elliot acts as if one punch to the necks puts him out). But with Elliot, now he is expecting Chili to hook him up and get an audition.
Due to the change of circumstances of his life, Chili has now decided to get into music. Chili goes to visit his friend’s widow Edie Athens (played by Uma Thurman), part owner of NTL Records and talks to her about working together and making this singer, which Tommy believed in, a star.
While talking about Linda Moon and what is needed to make her a star, Edie talks about her tattoo of Aerosmith and how at one time she knew the band, especially Steven Tyler. This gives Chili an idea of possibly getting Aerosmith to help them out.
Meanwhile, as Chili and Edie work on making Linda Moon a star, another storyline develops with gangster/producer Sin LaSalle (played by Cedric the Entertainer). It appears that Athens owed LaSalle $300,000 and with him dead, he is intent in collecting the money from Edie and NTL Records. LaSalle and his boys go to NTL Records to collect their money (which Edie has found out, there is no more money) but with quick thinking, Chili tells them that he will get them their money by the end of the week.
In another storyline, Nick Carr (Keitel) is upset that Chili has assumed that he can take Linda Moon away from him and so, they hire an assassin to kill Chili. Unfortunately, the assassin ends up killing is a Russian mafia member who was planning to kill Chili and now the Russian mafia wants revenge.
With all that’s going on with Chili Palmer’s life, will he and Edie make Linda Moon a star? And will he be able to get the money and save NTL Records, but most importantly, with people wanting to kill him, will he live by the end of the day?
“Be Cool” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:40:1). Picture quality for the film is absolutely vibrant. There are plenty of colors seen through the film but also detail galore. Skin tones are natural, black levels are nice and deep. I didn’t notice any blemishes, artifacting or any problems with the film whatsoever. The film looks great on Blu-ray!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Be Cool” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Surround and French 5.1 DTS HD. While the film is dialogue-driven, it’s also musically driven and from scenes with Linda Moon singing, to ambiance of hip-hop playing in Dabu and friend’s Humvee’s, Aerosmith playing live in concert to the Black Eyed Peas playing at club, music is what envelops the soundscape and utilizes the surround channels.
There are action sequences with gun shots or an aluminum bat coming into play and other ambiance as Chili and Edie going to a Lakers games but the film will be recognized for its music soundtrack and there is plenty of music being played throughout the film.
Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.
“Be Cool” comes with the following special features:
- Be Cool, Very Cool Making-Of Documentary – (21:36) Making of the film and cast talking about the various characters in the film and how cool Chili Palmer is throughout the film.
- Deleted Scenes – (17:31) A total of 14 deleted and extended scenes.
- Gag Reel – (7:20) Outtakes from “Be Cool”.
- Music Video” The Rock as Elliot Wilhelm, “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man” – (4:07) As Director F. Gary Gray would say, things that one would not want to do in music video.
- John and Uma’s Dance Sequence – (3:35) The making of the dance sequence of Chili and Edie.
- Close Up: The Rock – (6:01) Director F. Gary Gray talks about casting The Rock as the gay Elliot Wilhelm.
- Close Up: Andre 3000 – (4:24) Director F. Gary Gray talks about casting Andre 3000 Benjamin (from the hip hop duo Outkast) and giving him a role in the film.
- Close Up: Cedric the Entertainer – (5:26) Director F. Gary Gray talks about how he wanted Cedric to play a bad, comedy man.
- Close Up: Christina Milian – (5:26) Director F. Gary Gray talks about how the role of Linda Moon was the most difficult to cast and how Christina Milian got the part.
- Theatrical Trailer – (2:03) The theatrical trailer for “Be Cool”.
When “Be Cool” came out in theaters back in 2005, I figured that it would be the 10th anniversary of “Get Shorty” and it would be a pretty dark, comedy about Chili Palmer and the world he lives in.
“Be Cool” turned out to be a comedy which features plenty of stars, many cameos and a storyline that is fun but nowhere near the quality of its predecessor.
If there is one thing that the film does right, it’s the fact that Chili Palmer retains his cool from beginning to end, he is unfazed. But then the film tries to incorporate so many stars that it tries to capture the Hollywood and Los Angeles lifestyle and like many other films which tries to incorporate a plethora of stars, it becomes the film’s focus and sure, it may work for some people but for those who are familiar with “Get Shorty”, especially those who are familiar with Elmore Leonard’s novel of “Be Cool”, the film becomes less about Chili Palmer and more about everyone else.
We have Vince Vaughn playing a white guy who talks Black, the Rock playing a gay bodyguard who is sensitive of people calling him a queer and yet singing in a silk cowboy outfit “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man”, you have the Black Eyed Peas in the film to provide Chili and Edie’s dance theme (which does not achieve the same or similar efficacy as their dance scene in “Pulp Fiction”) and characters after characters that are thrown in to the mix to make the film more appealing and cool to different audiences but in the long run, it just doesn’t work.
And now the good news…what I mentioned above, could also be the positive for many viewers. Forget “Get Shorty” and look at this film as a popcorn comedy film with a lot of talent and stars. Heck, there is so much music being played in the film, the filmmakers even manage to pull of filming scenes during an actual Los Angeles Lakers game.
And for me, compared to other films that try to throw in a lot of stars like “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” or “Valentine’s Day” that were not that great, “Be Cool” is a much more entertaining film.
When you think about it, you Travolta playing a cool character, Uma Thurman looking fantastic, Cedric the Entertainer as bad boy, The Rock as a gay man and Vince Vaughn trying to be Black, that makes for a fun comedy. Not a great film but a good popcorn comedy film.
And its important to note that anyone who hasn’t seen “Get Shorty” can easily get into this film. Watching the original film is not essential but if you do, you’ll see how the original is much better than this sequel.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture and audio quality were pretty solid for this catalog release and the film has a good number of special features as well.
Overall, “Be Cool” comes nowhere close to the efficacy of “Get Shorty” but it does manage to feature plenty of stars, plenty of music and in the end, makes for a fun popcorn comedy film on Blu-ray.
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