Is a good cast alone enough to carry a movie? Well, judging by the new film “Be Cool,” the answer is no, probably not. Even though the movie is loaded with stars, the sequel to the 1995 comedy hit “Get Shorty” often falls flat.
Hollywood producer Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is back, but this time he is in the music business. After his friend gets killed, Chili pays a visit to the widow, Edie (Uma Thurman). He offers to help her run an independent record label and has already hand picked their first star, Linda Moon (Christina Milian).
But before he can succeed in the music industry, Chili has to contend with Linda’s manager, Raji (Vince Vaughn), a man who acts much more urban than he really is, Raji’s bodyguard, Elliot Wilhelm (The Rock), a homosexual who dreams of being an actor, and music producer Sin LaSalle (Cedric the Entertainer). A slew of Russian mobsters looking to kill Chili is added into the mix, and even the top notch cast cannot save the jumbled plot.
What a good cast can do, however, is make a mediocre movie difficult to criticize. The cast of “Be Cool,” which includes Andre Benjamin, Danny DeVito, Steven Tyler, Harvey Keitel and Robert Pastorelli, in addition to the actors already mentioned, is so talented that it becomes hard to knock the film. “Be Cool” also enjoys some entertaining cameos, which add to the experience. While the jokes might miss, the actors are consistently on target, making the film fun, even if not always funny.
Travolta and Thurman play off of each other wonderfully, as usual, and their combined charisma helps carry the film along. The highly anticipated dance sequence between the pair is a far cry from what we saw in “Pulp Fiction,” but is nonetheless charming and enjoyable to watch.
Cedric the Entertainer is very funny, as is The Rock, and they both contribute greatly to the film. While they are not necessarily central characters, they still make a large difference, and the scenes involving their characters are some of the best in the film.
Centered on the music industry, the film incorporates some great sounds. From pop to rap to classic rock, many genres are represented. Arguably the best 45 seconds of the film take place during a conversation about Bob Dylan and the song “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Then again, if you know me, you know I may be biased.
The film is never afraid to poke fun at itself, incorporating jokes about sequels and the people in the film. There is something refreshing about a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously, because it means that we don’t have to either.
It has been 10 years since “Get Shorty” met with critical and commercial success. As a sequel, “Be Cool” cannot compete nor compare with the original, yet on its own, the film does quite well. “Be Cool” is not a great film, but it tries to have fun. For the most part, it succeeds, if in no other way than on the legs of its cast.