Be Cool (2005)

be cool poster 2005 movie
3.5 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 5/10

Chili Palmer

Dull, lifeless sequel

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Be Cool

Studio:  Jersey Films

Genre(s):  Comedy/Drama

Release Date(s):  March 7, 2005

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

be cool john travolta uma thurman

It’s going to take more than a Jack Rabbit Slim’s reunion to save this movie

Chili Palmer (John Travolta) has gotten tired of the movie racket.  When his friend Tommy Athens (James Woods) is gunned down by Russians and he meets a singer named Linda Moon (Christina Milian), Chili decides music might be where it is at.  With Athens’s wife Edie (Uma Thurman) discovering that the record company is broke and Linda’s producer Roger “Raji” Lowenthal (Vince Vaughn) refusing to let her go, Chili is about to discover that music might be harder than he imagined…but even with everyone gunning for him, Chili knows to be cool.

Directed by F. Gary Gray, Be Cool is a crime-comedy drama.  A sequel to Get Shorty from 1995, Be Cool adapts the 1999 novel by Elmord Leonard.  The movie was released to negative reviews and a moderate box-office return.

I enjoyed Get Shorty.  It was a fun mix of Tarantino-esque filmmaking, Hollywood, and a modern mob story.  Be Cool tries to take the same format, apply it to music, and make it PG-13…also long after the resurgence of John Travolta has sputtered.

be cool rock dwayne johnson eyebrow

When your best joke is a celebrity making fun of his signature move…you have a problem…

The movie is largely built like the previous film.  Chili glides from problem to problem and in the process makes more and more problems.  Unfortunately, the film has lost the previous film’s edge.  The previous film was a lighthearted romp, but this movie manages to take the edge and make it cartoonish or a parody of itself…the movie just doesn’t work.

John Travolta continues to be strong as the smooth as Chili Palmer.  Uma Thurman is paired once again with him and the pair even return to dancing after their famed Pulp Fiction scene.  Vince Vaughn continues to be annoying (even more so here), and the Rock plays his bodyguard while mocking his famous eyebrow raising.  The movie features Danny DeVito, James Woods, Harvey Keitel, Christina Milian, Cedric the Entertainer, Seth Green, and Robert Pastorelli in his last role.  The movie also features appearances by Aerosmith, the Black Eyed Peas, Wylef Jean, Gene Simmons, RZA, Fred Durst, the Pussycat Dolls, Sérgio Mendes, Dub MDs, RZA, Anna Nicole Smith (largely in background cameos).

be cool christina milian steven tyler

I’m not that “music-y”, but it doesn’t seem like their voices mix well

While the Tarantino style was kind of driven into the ground in the late ’90s by movies like Get Shorty, this movie doesn’t have half the style of the first one.  The movie didn’t entrench itself in the music industry as much as it should have and just feels kind of quasi-Hollywood again without the panache of the first movie.

It isn’t necessarily fair to compare Be Cool to Get Shorty, but it is hard to watch Be Cool without making the comparisons.  The only reason Be Cool even ranks is because Get Shorty does a little to prop it up…if it weren’t for that movie, Be Cool would be even worse than it was.  With the return of Chili Palmer in a TV version of Get Shorty in 2017, I hope that his image can be restored…and Be Cool won’t be the bad taste left in your mouth.

Related Links:

Get Shorty (1995)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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