Get Shorty (1995)

get shorty poster 1995 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Nice 1990s style movie

Better than a lot of the movies that seemed to imitate a Quentin Tarantino film

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Get Shorty

Studio:  Jersey Films

Genre(s):  Comedy/Drama

Release Date(s):  October 20, 1995

MPAA Rating:  R

get shorty chili palmer john travolta rene russo danny devito

Hollywood is complex, Chili…

Chili Palmer (John Travolta) wants out of his job as a collector when his boss dies and he finds himself under the control of Ray “Bones” Barboni (Dennis Farina) who has a grudge against Chili.  Tracking a target to Los Angeles, Chili gets a taste of Hollywood, and Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman) has the script that could make him a “made-man” in the Hollywood jet-set.  With the premiere actor Martin Weir (Danny DeVito) up for the role and rival investor Bo Catlett (Delroy Lindo) targeting the movie, Chili and actress-turned-producer Karen Flores (Rene Russo) must land the film…but Bones is coming for Chili.

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, Get Shorty is a comedy-crime drama.  The film adapts 1990 Elmore Leonard novel and won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture—Comedy or Musical (Travolta) with nominations for Best Motion Picture—Comedy or Musical and Best Screenplay.

get shorty gene hackman james gandolfini

The gangster film with James Gandolfini where James Gandolfini doesn’t play one of the gangsters…

In 1995 John Travolta was a hot commodity again.  He had just starred in Pulp Fiction and had another Academy Awards nomination.  Get Shorty was one of his big follow-up movies…and it actually worked.

The movie is a great balance of comedy and drama.  I’m not one of the biggest fans of gangster films, but this movie manages to have a real gangster feel while still having a strong comedy tone.  Movies like Analyze This (1999) and The Whole 9 Yards (2000) had similar tones.  The script is similar to movies by Tarantino (who everyone was trying to emulate in 1995)…it pops and makes great comparisons between gangsters and Hollywood.

The cast is star studded.  John Travolta works in the role and has the right tone and deliverance to make Chili both likable but also believable.  Rene Russo is a solid wing-woman while Gene Hackman plays the scheming Zimm great.  I’m not the biggest DeVito fan, but he is a good “I’m too good” actor.  Delroy Lindo doesn’t get much credit for the movie but really is a big part along with Denis Farina as the heavies.  The movie features roles by Bette Midler, James Gandolfini, Penny Marshall, Alex Rocco, and Harvey Keitel.

get shorty john travolta chili palmer rene russo sunset

I think I’m gonna like Hollywood

The movie did steal the Quentin Tarantino pop that he was developing in the 1990s with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.  The dialogue combines with the shooting style of the movie and just has a “too cool” feel to it that everyone was trying to get…this is one of the better emulators.

Get Shorty is a fun movie that was part of the copycat movies that burst from the independent film bubble.  It is very much a product of the 1990s, and it is fun to revisit in that sense.  With so many other movies in a similar style being released at this time, Get Shorty just became one of the masses in many ways which is unfortunate because it wasn’t a bad movie.  The movie was followed by a sequel Be Cool in 2005 and an Epix TV series in 2017.

Related Links:

Be Cool (2005)

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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