Be Cool Review
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Ten years after John Travolta first graced the big screen as Chili Palmer in Get Shorty, he returns for the sequel, Be Cool. But things have changed for Chili, the wiseguy-turned-movie-guy. Chili’s just released the sequel to his successful first film, and he feels like he’s sold out.

Tired of Hollywood politics, he decides to get out of the movie business. So when small-time producer Tommy Athens (James Woods) is killed, Chili offers his assistance to Tommy’s wife, Edie (Uma Thurman), who’s left with the record label—and all of its debt.

It looks as though the label might have struck gold when Chili discovers Linda Moon (Christina Milian). Unfortunately, she’s stuck in a contract with slimy manager Raji (Vince Vaughn) and his partner Nick Carr (Harvey Keitel), and they’re determined not to let her go.

So Chili has to find a way to get Linda out of her contract and make her a star while avoiding Raji and his gay bodyguard (who really just wants to be an actor), Elliot (The Rock). He’s being hunted down by the Russian mafia—the same guys who killed Tommy. And he’s getting pressure from rap mogul Sin LaSalle (Cedric the Entertainer), who wants the $300,000 Tommy owed him—and his posse of thugs will do anything to get it back.

Be Cool has some of the same Get Shorty cool—but not as much. The story has its hilarious moments, but, overall, it’s complex and often hard to follow (the whole thing with the Russian mafia is explained so quickly that I couldn’t tell you how they fit in). If you don’t pay too much attention to the details, though, it’s an amusing look at the politics of the music industry.

John Travolta is the same calm, smooth Chili Palmer, but Uma Thurman’s role seems forced (like she and John are trying a little too hard to remake Pulp Fiction). I never thought I’d say this, but The Rock steals the show in this movie. While some of the other characters are painfully overdone (Raji, the white manager who thinks he’s black, would be a great character in much smaller doses), Elliot brings in the most laughs—and The Rock plays the role with surprising (even shocking) panache.

Chili Palmer says it himself in the beginning of the movie—sequels just aren’t as good as the original. But if you’ve got nothing else to do on a rainy Friday night, Be Cool is good for a few laughs. It’s just nothing spectacularly memorable.

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