ninth symphony films - movie reviews

BE COOL (2005)

DIRECTOR  -  f. gary gray

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  114 minutes

RELEASED  -  4 march 2004


OFFICIAL SITE  -  be cool

be cool - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from be cool at

buy the dvd from be cool at

disenchanted with the movie industry, chili palmer tries the music industry, meeting and romancing a widow of a music exec on the way.

this is robert pastorelli's last film.


picture from be cool

picture from be cool

picture from be cool

picture from be cool

picture from be cool

picture from be cool


two out of four possible stars

It was a smart move for the producers of Be Cool that they decided not to name their film Get Shorty 2, because although each film features the same snappy lead character, "Chili Palmer," the two films are definitely different beasts. Excepting Travolta's appearance as the suave former loan-shark and movie producer Chili, the entire cast of the film differs from is predecessor, lending more credence to the idea that this is not so much a sequel as it is a completely new start with the character.

Chili Palmer is a role that Travolta plays well and despite this film's preponderance of faults, viewers just might be able to stay on his side throughout the run of the film. When an actor is lucky enough to find a role in which he is able to make it appear as though there is no effort needed to play the character, it can play both ways for his reputation. Travolta is entirely natural and at ease as Palmer, but he is so at home that his suitability for the role might be interpreted as lazy acting.

The same idea regarding naturally suited performances probably can't be said for Travolta's costar, Vince Vaughn, who plays a nearly schizophrenic music producer who plasters on a hard core rapper accent and bounces around the screen with enough energy for ten actors. As the scheming "Raji," Vaughn's act holds up remarkably well for most of the film's 114 minute running time, though his brash manner might cause some viewers to feel the need to throw their sodas at the screen. Energetic just don't quite cover it. One wonders if there were controlled substances available on the set before each of his takes.

Cedric the Entertainer on the other hand plays a much more subtle and probably more effective role as another music producer who drives a Bentley and has a battalion of gigantic bouncer types who follow him in a fleet of black hummers. Cedric easily takes center stage in his every scene and if not for Travolta's equally strong appearance, he would have owned the film. As it stands, Cedric currently owns a big fat chunk of the most interesting and humorous portions of the film.

Though for out-right slapstick comedy and great comic timing, André 3000 (more popularly known as "Outkast" to his legions of fans) just as easily steals the show like his co-star Cedric. He probably utters the most entertaining lines in the film and does a fantastic job delivering his jokes both through audible and physical comedy. In fact, much of his dialogue seems to have been thought up the day of filming, given André's talent for delivering a convincing joke. When the story of the film fails, André and Cedric take up quite a bit of the slack.

Another musical performer joining the cast, though not in a comedic role, is Christina Milian, who seems comfortable in front of the camera despite her young years and adds authenticity to a role that requires its character to sing. As a struggling singer taken under Chili Palmer's wing as he strives to gain access to the elusive music recording industry, Milian is convincing and was well cast. But beyond Milian's suitability for her role, Travolta's effortless performance, and Cedric and André's scene stealing comedy, there is still another performer who, if he doesn’t fall under the category of "terrific," would still probably reside under "most surprising."

And that performance would be from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, certainly existing as one of Hollywood's more big-boned stars, who plays "Elliot Wilhelm," a gay struggling actor/singer who has a penchant for country music and polyester suits. The role is certainly a departure for The Rock who last was seen wielding a very large wooden stick in his last, rather manly movie, Walking Tall. Although it doesn't seem as though he entirely comfortable or natural in the role, it's still exciting to see an actor jump out of his usual character persona and try something new.

There are additional suitably cast actors in supporting roles such as Uma Thurman, who plays Travolta's love interest and recent widow, "Edie Athens," Steven Tyler, who plays himself, Harvey Keitel, who also plays himself (or at least the same character he plays in every film), and James Woods and Danny DeVito, who each have one scene but are entertaining additions to the cast. But despite the good and/or impressive performances, this film still seems to drag its audience along to its finish without a lot of finesse. Which might be ironic since Chili Palmer is supposed to just drip a general aura of suave.

The dialogue is not always as fresh as it should be, given the pedigree of the character and his story (the dialogue of Get Shorty is an example of a film whose jokes always hit the mark). Also, the story just isn't that interesting. The idea that a man tries to get into the music business is a good start for a story, but Be Cool relies much more on atmosphere and slapstick comedy to keep its viewers' interest. And the lack of effort put into the story just drags the film out to feel far longer than it should.

At a 114 minutes, the film runs a smidge long for a comedy, but it is still well within the two hour mark when you delete about five minutes for the ending credits. Be Cool is entirely style and had some effort been made to make the story one full of interesting twists or if the dialogue had come fresh out of the gate, the movie might not have seemed so long. Of all genres, it is most damning for a comedy to drag since it's a sign that there are portions that aren't connecting humorously with the audience. The film has a few great highlights, but it's by no means a worthy sequel.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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