There is nothing worse than a microwave movie that doesn’t even supply any short term value whatsoever! Bear in mind while reading this review that I am an avid reader of Elmore Leonard and I am a huge fan of the book, so my opinion of the film is in comparison to the book.
“Be Cool” follows on from its far superior predecessor “Get Shorty”. Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is two movies into his three picture deal which has just spawned a sequel to “Get Leo”. Chili has had enough of being in the film business and looks to get into the music biz following his friend, Tommy Athens’ (James Woods) murder via The Russian Mob. Chili encounters similar shady characters that he ran into in “Get Shorty” only far less menacing as he forcibly imposes his shylock ways on a whole new industry.
Many wasted efforts of some fine acting talent such as John Travolta who resumes his role as the sharp talking Chili Palmer as if it were a character created by John Hughes. In fact, not only does Travolta play a tame Palmer, he also overplays the character with three times the amount of recycled cliché lines that actually worked well in “Get Shorty”. I am thankful that James Woods’ character made an early exit to save another wasted talent from exhibiting a potentially low-calibre performance. The movie starts off well, however incidentally the film takes a dive after James Woods’ departure. You know someone took a wrong turn somewhere when The Rock actually steals the show.
The film adaptation of “Be Cool” is hardly anything like the book. I understand full well that an adaptation does not necessarily mean you have to film the book page for page, but changes should only be made if they work better than the original parts from the paperback. What self-respecting actor, writer or director could actually be okay with a product such as this? They are ripping the soul right from Elmore Leonard’s words! I only hope he wasn’t okay with this but money has a funny way of making more sense than pride.
Seriously, it is like wanting to do a film adaptation of something like “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” with a PG-13 rating. It just ain’t gonna work. Elmore Leonard’s humor fails to be seen and his characters all feel like the product of some writing hack. I realize I am being quite harsh on this film, but with a great cast like this, a capable director and a big enough budget – this had no excuse to be so ordinary.
The only redeeming value for “Be Cool” is the cast. The movie relies on the actors to pull all of the weight rather than relying on a good script. The actors think they are pulling along a solid bag of gold but if they simply opened their bags they would realize that it is merely a bag of bones. The movie has a 114 minute running time; however it only feels like it travels at 40 minutes. That is how shallow it is! They throw us a whole lot of tidbits and name value but fail to deliver on any of it.
As for the meager dance sequence between two old heads Travolta and Thurman, I’m not sure how successful one can pull off a traditional style dance scene to a Black Eyed Peas number? I guess it is an apt summary of the quality of the performances in this film as everybody seems to be dancing through their roles anyway they might as well do it literally.
Clay Smith from “Access Hollywood” called this “The Hottest Comedy of the Year.” Perhaps Mr. Smith needs to get his funny bone checked out and while there maybe his temperature. The only thing hot in this movie is the California sunshine.
A stand-out performance from Robert Pastorelli in his final film appearance. R.I.P.
As for the special features, well I’m not sure if a mediocre effort such as this should require so many but they are mildly entertaining just the same. The Rock’s music video is funny in its entirety. My advice is if you read the book don’t see the movie. Otherwise watch and you’ll probably enjoy.