Be Cool (March 15/05)
Be Cool just might be the worst sequel to a mediocre movie ever made, although calling this a sequel is far too generous; the film is essentially a remake of Get Shorty, minus the excessive profanity (unbelievably enough, it's rated PG-13!) Right from the get-go it's clear that the film has been crafted to appeal to a younger audience, with the inclusion of a variety of popular singers in starring roles and the aforementioned PG-13 rating. As a result, Be Cool has virtually nothing to offer viewers over a certain age (ie those of us who no longer watch MTV).
The story picks up a few years after the events of Get Shorty, and Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is sick of the movie business. After spotting a talented young singer named Linda Moon (Christina Milian) at a local club, Chili decides to take her under his wing and make her a star. Problems emerge when Linda reveals that she's already under contract with Nick Carr (Harvey Keitel) and his inept protege Raji (Vince Vaughn), a situation that's complicated by some angry Russian mobsters and a sleazy record producer (played by Cedric the Entertainer) who always seems to travel with a gun-toting posse.
There's a lot going on in Be Cool, and yet none of it is in the least bit interesting. Despite a promising opening that features an all-too-brief cameo from James Woods, the film quickly sinks into tedium - thanks primarily to director F. Gary Gray's reliance on non-actors in starring roles. This is particularly true in the case of Milian, an R&B singer who does an absolutely terrible job of stepping into the shoes of...an R&B singer. Worse yet, the film subjects us to two bland, utterly forgettable songs by the performer within the first 30 minutes - a disastrous choice that serves only to alienate a large portion of the audience (something that can also be said of Chili's third-act trip to an Aerosmith concert).
The actual actors in the film fare a whole lot better, with the exception of Vaughn - whose white-guy-trying-to-be-a-black-guy shtick worked a whole lot better in a two-minute SNL skit. Travolta is expectedly engaging as Chili Palmer, though Peter Steinfeld's script doesn't give him much to do other than look cool (in terms of character development, Chili remains at a standstill). Keitel and The Rock (playing a gay bodyguard), wasted as they are, provide the film with a couple of unexpectedly entertaining moments as Keitel delivers a two-second rap that has to be seen to be believed, while The Rock performs a scene from Bring It On as an audition piece.
But the bottom line is that Be Cool is just dull; there doesn't seem to be any reason for the film to even exist, thanks to a storyline that emphasizes the same sort of elements that made the original such a success. Add to that the watered-down vibe presumably dictated by the studio, and you've got a recipe for an all-around waste of time.