Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||F. Gary Gray|
|Screenplay by||Peter Steinfeld|
|Based on||Be Cool
by Elmore Leonard
|Music by||John Powell|
|Cinematography||Jeffrey L. Kimball|
|Edited by||Sheldon Kahn|
|Box office||$95.2 million|
Be Cool is a 2005 American 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 music 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 film opened in March 2005 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 helps the widow of an executed friend to resurrect a record company using the talents of young and talented female vocalist and songwriter. 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.
Chili Palmer (John Travolta), after years of filmmaking, enters the music industry after witnessing the execution, by the head of the Russian mob, of his friend Tommy Athens (James Woods), owner of a record company. Chili uses the opportunity to help his friend's widow, Edie Athens (Uma Thurman), manage the failing business, which owes $300,000 to the hip hop producer Sin LaSalle (Cedric the Entertainer). Chili enters the music industry on the talents of a female entertainer, Linda Moon (Christina Milian). 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 (The Rock), 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 Steven Tyler and Aerosmith.
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. Carr is furious about the mistake and orders Raji to confront Loop at once. At a restaurant, he informs Loop about Carr's anger with him and warns him to do his job properly. Raji then kills Loop with a metal baseball 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.
Wary of Carr's plans to get him killed, Chili hands the ticket to Edie, who turns it over to the police. Now the cops, instead of Chili, pay the Russians a visit. Meanwhile, Raji and Elliot set up LaSalle by making him believe that Carr tricked Chili in giving him the $300,000 grand to get Linda's contract. Furious, LaSalle and the DubMD pay Carr a visit to confront him in his office. Believing that Carr tricked him by giving the ticket to the police, 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, he again befriends Elliot when Edie helps him figure out how to answer his cell phone message on it. After learning that Chili had gotten him an audition for a film, Elliot turns on Raji because he 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).
The film's soundtrack was released on March 1, 2005.
|1.||"Fantasy"||Earth, Wind & Fire||3:46|
|2.||"Hollywood Swinging"||Kool & the Gang||3:26|
|3.||"Be Thankful for What You Got"||William DeVaughn||5:45|
|5.||"Sexy"||The Black Eyed Peas||4:44|
|6.||"Suga Suga" (Reggae Remix)||Baby Bash||4:10|
|7.||"The Boss"||James Brown||3:12|
|8.||"Ain't No Reason"||Christina Milian||3:12|
|10.||"Brand New Old Skool"||777||4:34|
|11.||"G's and Soldiers"||Planet Asia featuring Kurupt||4:12|
|12.||"Cool Chill" (instrumental)||John Powell||3:56|
|13.||"A Cowboy's Work Is Never Done"||Sonny & Cher||3:15|
|14.||"You Ain't Woman Enough" (A 1966 song by country music singer Loretta Lynn, performed by The Rock in the movie.)||Loretta Lynn||3:31|
Songs featured in the film but not included on 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.
Be Cool received a 30% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 169 reviews, with an average rating of 4.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Be Cool is tepid, square, and lukewarm; as a parody of the music business, it has two left feet." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 37 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews." 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".
In an August 2015 interview with Deadline, director F. Gary Gray discussed the failure of the film, stating: "With Be Cool, I made some assumptions in thinking that movie was going to work. I’d just made a successful PG-13 movie [The Italian Job], and when I walked into Be Cool, it was rated R and then at the last minute in preproduction I was told, “Well, you have to make this PG-13.” I should have walked off the film. This was a movie about shylocks and gangsta rappers and if you can’t make that world edgy, you probably shouldn’t do it. I walked in thinking I was going to make one movie and then it changed. Maybe it was arrogant of me to think because I had success in this realm of PG-13 I could make that work".