Dry and mundane, the star-packed comedy "Be Cool" isn't as cool as it wants to be. It's
not as cool as its 1995 original, "Get Shorty." Hell, it's not as cool as 2005's Hitch.
John Travolta returns as Chili Palmer, a name that is definitely cool played by someone
who is most definitely cool. He decides on a whim that he's no longer interested in
movies and would now like to run a recording label.
When his good friend Tommy (James Woods), president of his own label, gets whacked
by the mob, Chili joins forces with the widowed Edie Athens (Uma Thurman) and begins
looking for talent to save the spiraling record company.
It doesn't take long to discover the young singer named Linda Moon (Christina Milian
from last week's Man of the
House), and as soon as he hears her performing at a less-than-prestigious nightclub,
he decides that he must sign her. She is more than willing to come aboard.
The problem is that Linda is currently obligated to a five-year contact under the
management of Raji (an unbelievably annoying Vince Vaughn), an obviously white
manager who never looked in the mirror as a child and a result pretends to be black. It's a
routine that's been done before, many times, and much cooler.
Raji is partners with Nick Carr (Harvey Keitel), a dirty businessman who's been working
out contract-killing jobs with the Russian mob in order to ease the competition. But by
the way these guys operate it's hard to believe that the Russian mob has been able to
survive this long.
Then we throw in Sin LaSalle played by Cedric the Entertainer (also from Man of the House among
other titles) as a rival label head who runs a band of slapstick gangster wannabes...only to
later denounce racial epithets in a serious monologue.
All of this must have sounded great on paper and perhaps funny in this review; if only that
were the case on the screen. It's surprisingly stale and has a hard time finding rhythm as
it's constantly being interrupted by musical performances similar to what you see on
sketch comedy television.
So while the Russian mob is looking for targets and Sin for his missing $300,000 owed to
him, Chili's been trying to get his new talent recognized and arranges a meeting with
Aerosmith's Steven Tyler. Tyler as you would expect plays himself in a role that suggests
the acting in the family is best left to his daughter, Liv.
The movie isn't all bad. On a good note, Andre 3000 of OutKast got a laugh from me,
playing Dabu who realizes a couple of misfires too late that he should never be trusted
with a handgun. I also enjoyed The Rock playing a gay bodyguard, whacking people just
to pay the rent until he can land an acting audition or two. Acting is his passion, but just
like everyone else who works for Raji, such dreams are hard to come by.
Just when you think the movie might be going somewhere, "Be Cool" struggles to find the
right nostalgic pitch by reuniting Travolta with Thurman on the dance floor reminding us
of "Pulp Fiction" and the better days. It's not that we don't like them dancing, again, it's
just that the film forgets there is more than an hour left to go by the time it leaves us
watching these two dance for an entire Black Eyed Peas number. The second time I
glanced at my watch was during an entire Aerosmith number, and then again during an
entire Linda Moon solo number.
It's a shame that this film with all it's potential fails to pass the standards of even the most
basic comedies. Aside from a few charming moments and chuckle-induced overacting,
you'd be much cooler if you were seen walking into a different movie.