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:: Be Cool

Los Angeles and its two major industries, Hollywood and the Mafia, are clearly subjects of interest to both Tarantino and Leonard and worthy subjects at that. The antics of the Mafia make for great movies and so a movie, about the Mafia, making movies, should be equally as entertaining. However, the more often this formula is reworked, the less interesting it gets.

“Get Shorty” for those who haven’t seen it, follows mobster Chili Palmer (John Travolta) as he travels to Hollywood to collect a debt for his boss and along the way discovers that the skills of his trade translate fairly well into the industry that he always wanted to break into, Hollywood.

“Be Cool” opens as Chili Palmer now a heavy weight in Hollywood, disenchanted with the movie business starts musing about a return to the mob. Just as he is about to leave the exigencies of fame behind, he stops by a dodgy cabaret bar and inspired by up and coming singer Linda Moon (Christina Milian) and producer Edie Athens (Uma Thurman) Chili opts instead for a move into the music industry. Inevitably tangled up in all of this as in “Get Shorty”, is money, or more accurately, debt. And where there is debt, there are people with guns. That is when Travolta gets to do what Travolta does best, focus those beautiful blue eyes into the camera, smoke cigarettes and look cool while guns are pointed in his direction.

Despite the one liners peppered throughout the film in an attempt to turn it into a parody of film sequels and Hollywood generally, “Be Cool” is simply not as cleverly written as other such send ups like the Austin Powers and Naked Gun series. The plot misses the mark entirely and the film ends up feeling more like a big fat excuse to shoot John Travolta and Uma Thurman dancing together again. That is not enough to sustain a couple of hours despite the cameo appearances by Danny DeVito, The Rock, Harvey Keitel and Steve Tyler.

Aside from the dancing scene, the film just feels like one long star vehicle for Christina Milian, who it is true, can certainly belt out a tune and look good in hot pants at the same time. But given the current climate of reality television where on any given night you can watch Australian Idol, American Idol, The X Factor, or “special encore screenings” (the new phrase for repeats) of any of the aforementioned, you just feel like saying yeah, yeah, yeah. Wait for it to come out on video. Then wait until you have a hangover.