Be Cool

Bomb Rating: 

I really should dynamite this movie just for forcing me to watch Aerosmith's Steven Tyler try to act. The dude plays himself and I didn't believe it -- that's how bad he is. Other than to sing a duet, thankfully he's only in the movie for about ten seconds in which he doesn't sing. During that time, Chili Palmer (John Travolta) and Edie Athens (Uma Thurman) try to convince him to sing that duet with their new discovery, Linda Moon (Christina Milian). Much like its predecessor, "Get Shorty," this film revolves around a set-up involving lots of different people including another record producer (Harvey Keitel), the singer's manager (Vince Vaughn), the manager's gay bodyguard (The Rock), a hip-hop producer (Cedric the Entertainer), and a bunch of Russian mobsters.

In "Get Shorty," Chili turned from shylock to movie producer. Now, years later, he's bored with the movies and is turning to music. Why anybody thought audiences were interested in seeing Chili Palmer again is anybody's guess, but this film is basically a word-for-word remake of the first film, and Travolta looks about as excited to be there as a hemorrhoid sufferer at a proctology exam.

But more annoying than Travolta's lack of enthusiasm is the forced irony director F. Gary Gray tries to dump on the audience. Gray may not be entirely at fault as the novel upon which the film is based isn't exactly regarded as one of Elmore Leonard's better efforts. However, watching every single character spew one self-reference after another gets old fast. When Chili talks about wanting to get out of the movie business because he was forced to do a sequel, it's the signal of immediate trouble.

Among the many dreary, insipid moments are the repeat of the Danny DeVito character admiring Travolta's car, Steven Tyler commenting that he has yet to lower himself to making an appearance in a film, The Rock's constant eyebrow raising, and the ultimate in cinematic insults, a dance between Travolta and Uma Thurman in an homage to "Pulp Fiction" so ridiculously obvious it's simply not funny because there isn't anybody who doesn't get it.

Gray doesn't seem to understand that selectivity is what makes an in-joke work. Not everybody gets it. When everybody gets it, it's either not funny or not interesting or not very smart. In the case of "Be Cool," most of the references are all three and that's not a good thing.

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