Be Cool

(2005) * 1/2 Pg-13
120 min. MGM. Director: F Gary Gray. Cast: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Vince Vaughn, Cedric The Entertainer, Andre 'Andre 3000' Benjamin.

As loosely adapted from Elmore Leonard's Get Shorty sequel novel, the sequel movie Be Cool tastes like a watered-down drink. That producer Danny DeVito (as star actor Martin Weir) returns in a Viper Room cameo that lasts about 60 seconds should be a warning sign. Ditto for the opening sequence's endless self-referential jokes, as John Travolta's Chili Palmer, the hit man who went Hollywood, talks sequel shop with a producer (over)played by James Woods. "You can't do a movie where the main character gets popped in the first scene," he opines, just before taking some hot lead.

A fatal lack of energy characterizes the first half of the film, during which Chili gets it in his head that he can promote a young singer (played by real-life pop starlet Christina Milian). The gag here is that the sequel can exploit the music industry for laughs as the first film did to the movie biz. Unfortunately, this flat, cheap-looking production shoots its wad on a duet between Milian and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, who (badly) plays himself in chummy dialogue scenes with Travolta and Uma Thurman, who plays Woods's sexy widow and Travolta's new love interest.

Comedy is the first thing to go in Be Cool, with supporting players The Rock, Vince Vaughn, and Cedric the Entertainer overacting their way to hit-and-miss chuckles for apparently nonchalant director F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job). Vaughn, in particular, struggles to spin gold from straw, but gets off at least three good lines as the archetypal white guy who thinks he's black (the under-duress compliment "Mad respect for not giving respect, "I'm walkin' and I ain't even trippin'," and "I smell you," undoubtedly ad libs).

Neither Robert Pastorelli (in his final role) nor Harvey Keitel overacts, but neither has anything interesting to do, either (sadly, Keitel's corrupt music-biz honcho takes phone calls from people named "Robert" and "Marty"). Gray stages an incredibly sloppy "magic bullet" scene in which a guy gets inexplicably shot in the back by bullets aimed from in front of him and allows the running time to swell to two hours.

Travolta looks both uncomfortable and unsettlingly like George Hamilton. Palmer is still "cool" about everything, and confidently flings around his mildly absurdist catch phrase "if that" (as in "I'll tell them what I have to, if that"). His reaction to The Rock's audition "monologue" is priceless (even though the bit rips off an old SNL gag), and who can resist Travolta's Pulp Fiction-esque dance scene with Thurman? As cynical and desperate as it may be, it's the only scene with any genuine style in the inept Be Cool.

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Aspect ratios: 2.40:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Street date: 7/5/2011

Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

/content/films/2167/2.jpgDespite being six years old, Be Cool looks brand spanking new in its Blu-ray debut from MGM. Color is vibrant, detail and texture revelatory, and black level unerringly strong. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is relatively mediocre, in its listless use of rear channels, but the dialogue comes through loud and clear in the center.

The DVD extras return, beginning with the documentary "Be Cool, Very Cool" (21:33, SD). Along with making-of footage, we get comments from director Barry Sonnenfeld, producers Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher, and stars John Travolta, Uma Thurman, The Rock, Cedric the Entertainer, Christina Milian, and Vince Vaughn.

Fourteen "Deleted Scenes" (17:14, SD) include "The Rehab Cafe," "Derek's Comeback #1," "Derek's Comeback #2," "I'm a Believer," "Nick Carr on Yoga," "After the Game," "The Patti LaBelle Show," "Raji Receives Elliot [Extended Version]," "Video Shoot [Alternate Version]," "Sin's Monologue," "Shootout at Carosell," "Backstage Pep Talk," "Pawn Store Bust," and "Fred Durst Wants Linda."

We also get the "Gag Reel" (7:19, SD); "'You Ain't Man Enough To Take My Woman' sung by 'The Rock' Music Video" (4:05, SD); a Close Up suite of featurettes and interviews including "Dance Partners" (3:34, SD), "The Rock" (6:00, SD), "Andre 3000" (4:23, SD), "Cedric The Entertainer" (5:25, SD) and "Christina Milian" (5:25, SD); and the "Theatrical Trailer" (2:22, HD).

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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