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Be Cool (2005): **½

Directed by Director

Throughout a great deal of this film I kept thinking, "Boy, I am not going to be able to give this film a positive review. It isn't very good at all."

Indeed, it wasn't very much fun to watch. It seemed extremely awkward and disjointed. A lot of the comedy fell completely flat because it was put in such an awkward context. The word "awkward" keeps floating around in my mind, so I think I'll go with it. Awkward.

Be Cool is the kind of movie that has a ton of things going on at once—multiple storylines, tons of characters, crossing plots and all that—all revolving around the central character, John Travolta's Chili Palmer.

The same Chili Palmer from Get Shorty. This is the sequel to that film. The problem is, that film came out TEN YEARS AGO, and this film gives you basically no startup. It's as if you had just finished watching Get Shorty and then this film starts, even though ten years have also passed in this film. Be Cool does not let you get reaquainted with Chili before shit starts happening, and throughout much of the film I kept wondering, "Is this a character from Get Shorty?" Because, you know, I saw Get Shorty TEN YEARS AGO. It wasn't that fresh in my memory.

Then, as I said, shit starts happening. And it felt almost completely arbitrary. Soon piles upon piles of complications are heaped up and thrown on the screen, but there's absolutely no sense that it's going to go anywhere, or even that it needs to go anywhere. There is no drive to the first two-thirds of the movie; it's just a bunch of stuff that happens.

Then the third act appears, and all the threads start to suddenly come together, and then the movie takes off like a sleeping man who has had a bucket of cold water tossed on him. Suddenly the laughs are fast and frequent; the timing really clicks; you can tell that the story threads are actually leading up to something, even if you're not sure exactly what. And as each thread sets up a payoff in the next thread, which sets up a payoff in the next thread, and so on and so on, the movie keeps getting funnier and funnier.

But that's only the very last half hour of the movie. The rest of the film was at best serviceable and at worst completely unnecessary. So that's 25% good movie? That's not a very good percentage, is it?

Thankfully the performances help make up a good, good amount of crappy plotting and directing. Travolta inhabits Chili like a second skin. He is smart. He is charismatic. He is unassuming. And he has this demeanor about him that makes it so you don't want to shoot him just yet, even though you really should. When he asks you to hear him out, you really think you should. Cedric the Entertainer is very good as the highly-educated man fronting as a gangsta, leading a crew of mostly-silent thugs, the Dub MDs. Among his crew is the hilarious Andre 3000 as Dabu, the happy-go-lucky thug who seems to have no sense as to proper thug etiquette... or how to properly handle a gun. Vince Vaughn is absolutely ridiculous playing a character who is supposed to be absolutely ridiculous. The Rock is very entertaining as Vaughn's bodyguard, who seems to have no sense about the image that he projects. Seth Green also has a great later cameo as "the most popular music video director in the world."

Surprisingly, the best single scene in the film comes from the Rock. It seriously had Carrie & me howling and beating on our armrests. It involves him, his music video, and a "monologue." You'll know it when you see it. That scene alone was worth almost the price of admission. Well, the price of admission to a movie in 1995...


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