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USA 2005
Directed by
F. Gary Gray
119 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bruce Paterson
1 stars

Be Cool

Synopsis: Based on an Elmore Leonard novel of the same name, in this sequel to Get Shorty John Travolta returns as Chili Palmer, Miami mobster turned film producer. Palmer is getting into the music business, taking on an up-and-coming female rock star (Christina Milian) with his co-manager (Uma Thurman), and facing off the Russian Mafia.

Writer Peter Steinfeld isn't exactly known for writing riveting sequels (Exhibit One: Analyse That). I now present Exhibit Two to the jury: Be Cool. While Elmore's Get Shorty book was great, maybe his sequel Be Cool kamikazed into the seconds bin. I don't know. I do know Steinfeld is a mangler of all one holds dear in a screenplay: character, plot, structure, credibility, integrity and so on. And making matters worse, director F. Gary Gray is on autopilot - the kind that piloted a DC-10 into the side of Mt Erebus back in 1979. If you could find this film's black box, it too would be squawking "whoop, whoop, pull up, whoop whoop, pull..."

In a sad irony, the film lingers on the peril of making film sequels, pathetically oblivious to the fact that it is itself one of the worst sequels in recent memory. Maybe you can get away with cute referential stuff about film sequels in the novel form, but Be Cool crashes straight through already thin ice by translating a referential novel into self-referential celluloid. It's no wonder the groovy Rene Russo bailed out of coming back for the sequel.

Absurd product placement just adds insult to injury. Apparently I, Robot set a new standard which virus-like Be Cool is now emulating. It's no longer enough to show the new-fangled gizmo once. You now have to mention its name, describe its cool features, and then rinse and repeat a few minutes later in case anyone's forgotten. Even Hollywood actors are product placed these days. Ick.

Gray's effort is also an example of taking film references too far. So far that they approach plagiarism rather than being coherent thoughts in their own right. When you start to recognise bits of the cheerleader flick Bring It On in something allegedly based on Elmore, you know you're in trouble. Be Cool is a lame attempt to appeal to every target demographic the studio can think of that only ends up appealing to the lowest common denominator.




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