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Be Cool Offers An Enjoyable Romp

By Robert California

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Let's get this straight right now: "Be Cool" is good. It's so loaded with talent, both in front of and behind the camera, that the movie is almost certain to win over audiences, big time, even if certain members of those audiences are not the right generation, not the target demographic, don't carry the right mindset, and are normally inclined to scoff at the kind of Hollywood movies that carry all the earmarks and trappings of pot-boiler junk. Like this one does.

Chili Palmer (JOHN TRAVOLTA), Edie Athens (UMA THURMAN), and music producer Sin LaSalle (CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER) in the recording studio in MGM Pictures' comedy BE COOL.

Because, be honest now, this sequel to "Get Shorty," starring John Travolta reprising his role as the cool, calm, and always collecting Chili Palmer, is chock-a-block with the usual Hollywood junk-movie detritus: the ubiquitious supermodel women, the gangsta-style musicians, the huge, black cars and the big, shiny guns, the over-the-top jive talk, opulent settings and heart-stopping vistas, as well as the effortlessly luxurious entertainment-industry lifestyle that normally marks a clunker as surely as a wide-brim hat marks a Hollywood pimp.

JOHN TRAVOLTA stars as Chili Palmer in MGM Pictures' comedy BE COOL.

But talent will out. And "Be Cool" has been written (by Peter Steinfeld) and directed (by F. Gary Gray), based on strong material from legendary Elmore Leonard, with such sure hands that most people simply won't be able to keep themselves from laughing at the running gags, chewing up the eye candy that litters the screen, and appreciating the next smooth visual or charming moment as they pour off the screen in an almost continual stream.

Linda Moon (CHRISTINA MILIAN) performs at the MTV Music Video Awards in MGM Pictures' comedy BE COOL.

The story is complex enough -- involving sudden murders, various sets of gun-toting killers, unpayable debts, nefarious agents, aspiring singer/songwriters, burgeoning romance, and lurking police and FBI -- to provide plenty of interesting twists and turns, though none of them is particularly plausible, or even memorable. It's also greased along by a steady flow of violence, threats of violence, or music, interspersed with cast-against type performances by The Rock, Vince Vaughn, and Robert Pastorelli, along with star turns from James Woods, Steven Tyler, and Danny DeVito.

UMA THURMAN stars as Edie Athens in MGM Pictures' comedy BE COOL.

But charm is this movie's strong suit, and it's got plenty to burn. Nearly every performer seems bursting with confidence that his or her every word, move, and raised eyebrow will be captivating to the audience. And surprisingly, most are. Of course, Travolta has been trading on his charm for decades, and this time out he doesn't back off an inch. Uma Thurman matches him, smirk for smirk and smokey stare for stare, in a meatless role halfway between the conventional love interest and the conventional hard-boiled female music executive struggling to survive in a man's world.

Elliot (THE ROCK), Miss Vita (left, CAROL DUBOC) and Miss Saigon (MINAE NOJI) shoot a music video in MGM Pictures' comedy BE COOL.

Actually, none of the actors here is immersed in his or her role as much as they are mugging for the camera. What's more, there are quite a few story elements that are laboriously set up without getting paid off. But in a project like this, all you really want is a company of beautiful, charming, well-liked performers laughing with the audience at the preposterousness of their characters and the contrivances of the plot. It's all in good fun, so sit back and enjoy the show, and the product placement.

Elliot (THE ROCK) gets a new outfit in MGM Pictures' comedy BE COOL.

In fact, there's so much charm oozing off the screen here that the dialog is heavily self-conscious, from the early banter about how most sequels are not all that good to the gratuitous use of the "F word" (after a quick explanation of how it can be used while still skirting the dreaded "R" rating from the MPAA, which this film does), to the stereotypical characters complaining about being stereotyped. Then there's the de rigeur scene where Travolta and Thurman dance, although nifty camera work makes it unnecessary for either of them, particularly Travolta, to bust any serious moves.

VINCE VAUGHN stars as Raji in MGM Pictures' comedy BE COOL.

But why quibble? "Be Cool" is an enjoyable romp among friends, both in the audience and on the screen. Looking for anything more, or being disappointed when it's not there, is beside the point.

Rated PG-13
Opens in theaters March 4
http://www.mgm.com/becool/site.html

Chili (JOHN TRAVOLTA) and Edie (UMA THURMAN) hit the dance floor in MGM Pictures' comedy BE COOL.

Linda (CHRISTINA MILIAN) performs with Aerosmith rockers STEVEN TYLER (right) and JOE PERRY in MGM Pictures' comedy BE COOL.

Chili Palmer (JOHN TRAVOLTA) and Linda Moon (CHRISTINA MILIAN) meet Dabu (ANDR

Chili (JOHN TRAVOLTA) talks with Martin Weir (DANNY DeVITO), ANNA NICOLE SMITH, and PHIL JACKSON after a Lakers game in MGM Pictures' comedy BE COOL.

Elliot (THE ROCK), Raji (VINCE VAUGHN) and Nick Carr (HARVEY KEITEL) discuss business in MGM Pictures' comedy BE COOL.

ANDR

Sin LaSalle (CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER, right), Dabu (ANDR

 


 

Published on Dec 31, 1969

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