BE COOL directed by F. Gary Gray, written by Peter Steinfeld from Elmore Leonard's novel, produced by Danny DeVito, David Nicksay, Michael Stamberg and Stacey Sher, with John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Vince Vaughn and Cedric the Entertainer. 117 minutes. An MGM release. Opens Friday (March 4). For venues and times, see Movies, page 91. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Compared to get shorty, this sequel is more than a little lame. Ironically, the parts that make it lamest are the most enjoyable.
Get Shorty succeeded on style and deadpan wit. Everyone played it straight, and the menace was serious. In Be Cool, most of the cast play for broad laughs, which destroys any sense of menace. Cedric the Entertainer is funny, but when he does his at-home scene as broad parody of WASP dainty gentility, how are we supposed to take his brutality seriously?
The trouble is, Harvey Keitel does; he's acting like he's in a gritty thriller. Same with Uma Thurman, James Woods and several others.
The effect is jarring and makes a mess of the movie.
The producers must have known it, because they stop the show again and again to give us more shtick. A fair amount of it is funny. Vince Vaughn's white guy trying to be black almost steals the show - almost, because that's all he's got to do, and we get far too much of it. This could almost be described as a movie about white guys trying to be black. The Rock, as the gay bodyguard, and André 3000, as the world's most idiot gangsta, also shine.
John Travolta is supposed to hold it all together but can't. In Get Shorty, as an enforcer looking to go legit in the movie business, he projected a genuinely threatening gangster cool. Now Chili Palmer's a movie producer looking to get into the record business, no longer a gangster. Travolta plays him relaxed, a bit needy and out of his element - Palmer loves movies, not music. His gangster act is just that. He's not convinced, and neither are we.
Be Cool begins with Palmer griping about being forced into making an inferior sequel. Somebody should've listened to him. firstname.lastname@example.org