Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||F. Gary Gray|
|Produced by||F. Gary Gray
|Screenplay by||Peter Steinfeld|
|Based on||Be Cool
by Elmore Leonard
Cedric the Entertainer
|Music by||John Powell|
|Cinematography||Jeffrey L. Kimball|
|Edited by||Sheldon Kahn|
|Running time||120 minutes|
Be Cool is a 2005 crime-comedy film adapted from Elmore Leonard's 1999 novel of the same name and the sequel to Leonard's 1990 novel Get Shorty (itself adapted into a hit 1995 film of the same name) about mobster Chili Palmer's entrance into the film industry.
The film adaptation of Be Cool began production in 2003. It was directed by F. Gary Gray, produced by Danny DeVito (who produced and co-starred in the first film), and starred John Travolta, reprising his role from the first film. The movie opened in March 2005 to generally mixed reviews, and was released to video and DVD distribution on June 7, 2005. This was Robert Pastorelli's final film, as he died one year before its theatrical release.
Chili Palmer (John Travolta) helps Edie Athens (Uma Thurman), the widow of an executed friend, Tommy Athens (James Woods), to resurrect a record company using the talents of young and talented female vocalist and songwriter, Linda Moon (Christina Milian). The plot is complicated by several facts:
- In a loan-shark subplot from Get Shorty of "who owns who", Chili makes deals and owns all the players as a "producer".
- The Russian Mafia (headed by Alex Kubik as Roman Bulkin) are trying to kill Chili because he witnessed the execution of Athens.
- Athens' record company owes money to a gangster/producer, Sin LaSalle (Cedric the Entertainer).
Chili Palmer, after years of filmmaking, enters the music industry after witnessing the execution, by the head of the Russian mob, of his friend Tommy Athens, owner of a record company. Chili uses the opportunity to help his friend's widow, Edie Athens, manage the failing business, which owes $300,000 to the hip hop producer Sin LaSalle. Chili enters the music industry on the talents of a female entertainer, Linda Moon. Moon convinces Chili to take on her cause, getting out of contractual obligations to Nick Carr (Harvey Keitel) and Raji (Vince Vaughn), who has a gay Samoan bodyguard named Elliott (Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson), an aspiring actor and the butt of Carr and Raji's homophobic jokes. Carr and Raji take exception to Chili's intervention, and hire a hitman, Joe "Loop" Lupino (Robert Pastorelli) to kill Chili. In the meantime, Chili convinces Edie to produce Moon, hoping to resurrect Athens' failing record company through a live performance with Aerosmith and Steven Tyler.
LaSalle threatens Chili and Edie for payment of the $300,000, but they convince him to give them a few days to get the money plus the vig. When the Russians attempt to kill Chili, Joe Loop mistakenly kills Ivan Argianiyev (George Fisher), the Russian Mob hitman. Raji then kills Loop with a bat after Loop "disrespects" him. After Chili talks Linda into leaving Carr and his girl group, Carr tries to trick Chili by handing him a pawn ticket, claiming that Linda's contract was at the pawn shop owned by the Russians. This is actually a set-up by Carr to get Chili killed.
Knowing about this trick, Chili hands the ticket to Edie, who turns it over to the police. Now the cops, instead of Chili, pay the Russians a visit. Believing that Carr tricked him, Bulkin and his men pay a visit to Carr's office while Sin LaSalle and the DubMD's are there. Insulted by Bulkin's racist remarks, LaSalle kills him. In the meantime, Raji sends Elliot to kill Chili. However, Chili befriends Elliot and tells him that he can help him out with his acting career. When Carr threatens Chili, Chili sends him to the hands of the police with a pawn ticket. Finally when Raji and Elliot threaten Chili, Chili again befriends Elliot, who turns on Raji after learning that Chili had gotten him an audition for a film and Raji erased the evidence of it on his answering machine. For all his smooth talking and flamboyant wardrobe, Raji finds himself in a firework conflagration which roasts him live on camera. Carr is arrested on murder charges when they find him with the bat used to kill Joe Loop.
During all of this confusion, Chili squeezes in a dance scene with Edie (a nod to his "Twist Contest" scene, also with Thurman, in Pulp Fiction) and Moon gets her debut with Aerosmith. Finally, LaSalle becomes the producer for Moon and Elliot embarks on a successful acting career (his first film is with Nicole Kidman).
- John Travolta as Chili Palmer
- Uma Thurman as Edie Athens
- Vince Vaughn as Roger "Raji" Lowenthal
- Cedric the Entertainer as Sin LaSalle
- Harvey Keitel as Nick Carr
- Christina Milian as Linda Moon
- André Benjamin as Dabu
- Dwayne Johnson as Elliot Wilhelm
- Robert Pastorelli as Joseph "Joe Loop" Lupino
- Paul Adelstein as Hyman Gordon
- Arielle Kebbel as Robin
- Debi Mazar as Marla
- Gregory Alan Williams as Darryl
- Danny DeVito as Martin Weir
- Seth Green as "Shotgun" the Music Video Producer (uncredited)
- James Woods as Tommy Athens
- George Fisher as Ivan Argianiyev
- Kimberly J. Brown as Tiffany
- Lewis Jordan as Harver James
- Alex Kubik as Roman Bulkin
- Wyclef Jean
- The Black Eyed Peas
- Sérgio Mendes
- Gene Simmons
- Fred Durst
- Anna Nicole Smith
- Della Reese
- Kobe Bryant
- moe. sticker
- The Pussycat Dolls
- Rocco Botte
The film's soundtrack was released on March 1, 2005.
Songs featured the film but not included in the soundtrack are:
- "Act a Ass" - E-40
- "Autumn Blue"
- Best of My Love - Christina Milian, Carol Duboc, and Minae Noji
- "Beethoven's 9th" - Dean Hurley
- "Brazilian Day" - XMAN
- "Chattanooga Choo Choo" - Steve Lucky & The Rhumba Bums
- "Cooliest" - Jimi Englund
- Cryin' - Aerosmith and Christina Milian
- "Deanstone" - Dean Hurley
- "(Everytime I Hear) That Mellow Saxophone" - Steve Lucky & The Rhumba Bums
- "Heistus Interruptus"
- "Kiss Me" - Sixpence None the Richer
- "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" - Bob Dylan
- "Lady Marmalade - Carol Duboc and Minae Noji
- "La Primavera"
- "Melbourne Mansion"
- "Memories" - Eisley (video visible in background)
- "Me So Horny" - 2 Live Crew
- "Moving On"
- "Praia de Genipabu" - Barbara Mendes
- "Rock It Like Diss" - Jahmaal Rashad
- "Santa Monica Man" - Dean Hurley
- "Short Pimp" - Noah Lifschey and Dylan Berry
- "Strings In Velvet" - Manfred Minnich
- "Travel Russia #2" - The Dollhouse Players
- "Wild Out" - Cheming (featuring XMAN)
On a production budget of $53 million, Be Cool grossed $56,046,979 in North American and $39,169,077 internationally, totaling up to $95,216,056 worldwide.
Halliwell called it "a palpable miss, a movie so lazy and laid back that it falls over; there are none of those insights ... that made Get Shorty so enjoyable".
Differences between the film and the novel
There are many differences between the novel Be Cool and the film adaptation. Some of the most prominent are:
- The film tends to focus on pop music, with Linda Moon being a pop artist. In the novel, Linda Moon is part of a rock band named Odessa, who are described as "AC/DC meets Patsy Cline".
- In the novel, Sin LaSalle's name is Sin Russell. He is not sophisticated or intelligent, as he is depicted in the film. He and his rap group do not play a large role in the plot of the novel either, barely appearing in it. Most of them are either killed or put in intensive care after a shoot-out with the Russians.
- The Russians run a 1-Hour photo business, not a Pawn Shop.
- The Russians play a smaller role in the novel's plot than the film's. Chili still manages to turn Sin and his rappers against the Russians, but it culminates in a shoot-out half way through the novel. Neither party returns later in the plot.
- Raji is not a young, white man that acts black in the novel. In the novel, he is a short black man in his 50s, less humorous and more malevolent.
- In the novel, Linda Moon is a non-Hispanic white and tends to use mildly racist terms, calling blacks "colored" throughout the book.
- Sin's rap group is known as Ropa-Dope, not DubMDs.
- The film excludes Chili's love interest, Elaine, who was also left out of the film version of Get Shorty. Chili does not pursue a relationship with Edie, as he does in the film.
- Nick Carr's name is Nick Car, which is short for Nicky Carcaterra. He has no involvement in Raji's plot to kill Chili Palmer, nor is he an antagonist.
The connections and similarities with the previous film
As a sequel, this film connects or has similar plots to pay enough homage to its previous work. Several of these connections and similarities are directly from their respective books.
- Chili Palmer repeats several tropes, behaviors and catch-phrases from the first film.
- After Chili's first break-in in the first film, its waking the host by using sound of TV style is repeated by many intruders in both movies. Besides this waking break-in, two movies also contain some awaiting break-in.
- Tommy's intern testifies that Tommy punched the Russian mob in the eye just like the scene in Get Leo, which is actually based on the punch Chili delivered to Ray Barboni in the first film.
- The name of his former partner, Harry Zimm from the first film appears on the commercial board as a director of the sequel to the fictional "film within a film", "Mr. LoveJoy".
- In both films, Chili uses his charm and power of perception and befriends the under-appreciated second bananas sent to rough him up; in the first movie Bear (James Gandolfini), Eliot (Dwayne Johnson) in the second.
- The main antagonist in each film ends up being busted by the cops after a series of set-ups.
- Similar to the "Cadillac of minivans" remark about the Oldsmobile Silhouette in Get Shorty, the Honda Insight is referred to as the "Cadillac of gas-electric Hybrids".
Like Get Shorty, Be Cool portrays ironic self-referential gags, intertwining fact and fiction as a comedic device:
- At the beginning of the film, Chili sees an advertisement for Get Lost, which is the sequel to Get Leo—the film within a film he produced in Get Shorty. He expresses his distaste for sequels, as well as his dissatisfaction in failing to prevent Get Lost from being made, despite the fact he himself is a character in a sequel. The first line of the movie is Chili disgustedly dismissing the advertisement.
- Tommy proposes the idea of making a movie about a young singer who wants to make herself big with the help of a record mogul who makes it happen which becomes the main plot of the film at hand. Almost every factor Tommy mentioned in his pitch, such as gangsta rappers and the Russian Mafia, ends up happening in the film.
- Chili was asked by Marly the FBI about his meeting with Tommy when he replied "I know what you're getting, Marla. You think that I set this up. But the truth is he wants me to make a movie of him. How can we make a movie when the main character get pop up in the first scene". The Detective replied, "Yeah, not a bad opening". Tommy responded "Yeah, you are right. You know that worked for American Beauty." The Detective and Marla replied, "Sunset Boulevard." "Or Casino." Well, Tommy was shot in early part of the movie, if not the first scene.
- When the idea is brought up to Steven Tyler, he vehemently rejects the possibility of being in a film and declares that he is not one of those singers who does bit-part cameos in films, despite the fact that that is exactly what he is doing in this film.
- The one time the word "fuck" is used in the film is in talking about the MPAA's policy that the word "fuck" can only be used once in a PG-13 film without bumping the rating up to R. Be Cool uses the word "fuck" only once, in the first scene: "Do you know that unless you're willing to use the R rating, you can only say the 'F' word once? You know what I say: Fuck that. I'm done." For the rest of the film, several characters come close to using the word "fuck" but are cut off or censored in some way before they can.
- The dancing scene between John Travolta and Uma Thurman is reminiscent of the one they portrayed in Pulp Fiction.