Be Cool (2005) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

If you're like me, you thought Get Shorty was a pretty cool movie - not a world-beater, but an entertaining time-killer about an ultracool loan shark who decides to get into the movie business. If you agree with that assessment, you probably shared my anticipation for the sequel, Be Cool, which brought back John Travolta in one of his best roles as Chili Palmer, the cooler-than-cool mobster turned hipster.

Sorry. The idea was better than the execution. I found myself drifting off during parts of this film!

Nothin' agin' Travolta who not only has this role nailed, but also got his looks back and is capable of being a completely believable leading man again. The script just went in all the wrong directions. The author was not lacking in suitable clay to develop good ideas. Since Travolta decided to get into the music business, a lot of music superstars were on hand in both small roles and cameos. Christina Milian can totally sing, and also turned out to be an adequate actress for the ingenue role. Some of Chili's cool-ass banter was funny. There were some good minor characters as well: The Rock was on hand as the world's worst bodyguard, and he was damned funny; Vince Vaughn was on hand as the world's lightest-complected black pimp, and he too had some moments.

So what went wrong? There were two major problems:

1) Too many characters, too little time. There would have been more than enough plot with Chili taking on one or two different antagonists in the record business. The basic plot is that he's trying to muscle a talented entertainer away from Harvey Keitel, despite the fact that Harvey has an iron-clad contract. That plot alone would have permitted the development of six solid characters: one team would have consisted of Chili, Uma Thurman as the widowed inheritor of a debt-ridden studio, and the star singer (Christina Milian). The other team would have been Keitel, Vaughn, and The Rock. Given that basic structure with six characters, some of the promising cameos (Danny DeVito and James Woods, for example) could have been expanded. The screenwriter could have had a lot more fun with DeVito in particular. Unfortunately, the film added not one but two additional rival groups: a bunch of Russian mobsters and a bunch of gangsta rappers, both of whom felt that Uma's penniless studio owed them some big-time bucks. Acting outside any of these groups was a hit man who was hired by Keitel, but ended up as an independent agent being killed by Keitel's own men. That gave the film five different warring factions, all killing or trying to kill members of various other groups in complex permutations. For a while there the plot was getting so complicated that it made The Big Sleep seem as simple as The Odd Couple. There was just too much going on, and it was requiring too much mental energy for a film that I hoped to watch with my brain turned to the off position.

2) Chili is now too damned cuddly. The sequel to Pitch Black was done in when they made Riddick cuddly, and this film has some of that same vibe. In essence, Chili has gone from antihero to superhero, using his cool and persuasive powers to fight evil. This movie actually has a sappy ending in which the sweet, naive singer wins some awards under Chili's management, and she's just all gushy.

Bottom line: some good elements, but too long, too inconsistent, and too unfocused.



  • Deleted Scenes

  • Gag Reel

  • Be Cool, Very Cool 22-minute behind-the-scenes documentary

  • Music Video

  • "Close Up: Dance Partners"

  • "Close Up: The Rock"

  • "Close Up: Andre Benjamin"

  • "Close Up: Cedric the Entertainer"

  • "Close Up: Christina Milian"

  • anamorphically enhanced, 2.35:1


None, but Uma Thurman has her curves barely concealed by a bikini.

The Critics Vote ...

  • The super-panel consensus, out of four stars, was between one and a half and two stars. BBC 2/5, James Berardinelli 2/4, Roger Ebert 1.5/4

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. It grossed $56 million domestically and another $37 million overseas.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C-. There are moments when it seems to be heading in the right direction, finding the same vibe as Get Shorty, and for those moments I don't regret watching it. But I'll never watch it again.

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