By Chris Thilk | March 2, 2005

Everything has a cost. World War II was won by the Allies, but at the cost of countless lives. Wishes made of the monkey’s paw often have unforeseen consequences. “Pulp Fiction” came at the cost of “Swordfish”.

It’s not so much that John Travolta is a horrible, horrible actor; it’s that he’s a horrible actor who often headlines truly awful movies. The original “Get Shorty” is the rare exception to that rule though Travolta was quick to squash most – if not all – goodwill from that movie with the double punch of “Phenomenon” and “Michael”, two of the absolute worst films of the last ten years. “Get Shorty”, though, was a smooth, jazzy movie that relied heavily on a sharp script and a good cast, both of which it had. Being directed by Barry Sonnenfeld didn’t hurt either.

So ten years later its sequel, “Be Cool”, hits theaters with Travolta the only cast holdover (other than what looks to be a brief Danny Devito cameo) from the original.

The Trailer

With a pretty nice introduction to the large cast, this is a good trailer. It’s light, bouncy and is obviously trying to exude the same jazzy loose feel the first movie had. Vince Vaughn looks hilarious as a white guy trying to act like the pimp. His look and performance actually had me thinking he must have taken notes from Snoop Dogg while shooting “Starsky & Hutch”. Even The Rock, whose career just completely confounds me, looks fairly funny as a gay bodyguard. I didn’t even recognize him until I saw a cast list. Travolta too looks like he’s actually having fun as opposed to trying so hard to act that his cast members have to worry about him throwing a rod.

Oh, and don’t worry. We do get a shot of Travolta dancing as he is contractually obligated to do in all films. We must never forget he is a dancer. We will never be allowed to forget this.

The Poster

This one’s pretty basic, showing the entire main cast. It’s interesting that they took this route considering Travolta is the main character and sole carry over from “Get Shorty”. I can only assume the studio was going for a “more is more” approach here. Then again, Uma Thurman is coming off the hugely popular “Kill Bill” movies so her inclusion isn’t that surprising.

What is surprising is that no mention is made, either here or in the trailers, of the reuniting of three cast members of “Pulp Fiction”: Travolta, Thurman and Harvey Keitel. I know it’s a different studio, but it seems like they could have come up with some way to do this.

The Website

MGM obviously is getting the hang of this here internet thingamajig because this is a very nice website. It’s obviously put together by someone who didn’t feel this was just a toss-off sequel.

The first thing that greets you when you visit is a nice introduction of all the characters. Clicking on one of these people will bring you to a short bio as well as character-specific wallpaper and buddy icons. This is a nice way of grouping these types of features and they can also be found in the “Downloads” section along with a screensaver.

“Backstage” contains a wealth of information. Credits doesn’t seem like much as it’s just a listing of the filmmakers and cast like you’d find on a one-sheet. The Cast and Crew sections, though, have extensive biographies of everyone involved in the production. Under the heading of funny without trying, though, Travolta’s filmography includes what is described as the “successful sci-fi movie ‘Battlefield Earth’.” Wow. I’m going to convince myself someone wrote that to be ironic and it just never got caught in the editing process. There’s also a nice bio of author Elmore Leonard that includes a link to his homepage.

“Mixing Board” is a nice feature that enables you to choose a character and then play between three and maybe six sound clips of theirs from the movie. The best clips belong, unsurprisingly, to Vince Vaughn (“Come on twinkle, twinkle baby…” has already found its way into my dialogue). There are also links to info on the “Soundtrack”, a place to buy the “Get Shorty DVD”, “Promotional Partners” and a place to “Watch the Trailer”.

Interactivity seems to be one of the guiding concepts behind this site. “Make Your Own Video” lets you choose from quite a number of scenes from the movie and edit four of them together – along with dialogue – into your own movie. Neat little feature. If they can find a way to make it a bit easier to use this is something that has great potential.

In another move, Cadillac has partnered with MGM for the “Impress Me” feature. Aspiring filmmakers can create and submit their own five-second movie as part of the “Cadillac Under 5” campaign. Travolta is featured prominently in this campaign both in television ads and on the web at I watched some of the shorts and they’re…well…five seconds long. It’s like watching a scene extension on a DVD. There’s not much you can do in five seconds.


It really seems the producers of “Be Cool” are aware of what made “Get Shorty” so popular: its unique rhythm and writing. That being said it has been ten years and “Get Shorty” wasn’t exactly a cultural phenomenon that has had the public clamoring for a sequel. The campaign, though, carries the same sort of self-assured swagger John Travolta’s Chili Palmer has. It doesn’t seem to be overly pandering for a broad audience, but still seems accessible to anyone who may want to see The Rock as a gay bodyguard or Vince Vaughn strutting around like Jennifer Lopez.

As moviemaking costs increase, the pressure to successfully market those movies becomes greater. In an attempt to show how marketers are trying to put the most hinders in the theater seats, Chris Thilk breaks down why some movie campaigns work and some don’t. The posters for “The Rocketeer” and “Unforgiven” remain two of his all-time favorites. For Chris’ ongoing movie journal and other various musings, visit his Movie Marketing Madness blog.

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