Movie: Be Cool

Our Rating: 3.00

It's hard to figure out who's jerking whose chain in this Get Shorty follow-up: Even in the opening sequence, John Travolta, reprising his role as mobster-turned-mogul Chili Palmer, wisecracks about sequel syndrome. The film then proceeds to parody the original, which was itself a parody of Hollywood-style chicanery. Yet director F. Gary Gray makes no pretense to taking the story any deeper, and he doesn't even toy with Travolta's character. He's just good old Chili, trouble following him wherever he goes – this time into the underworld of music. The story's trajectory eventually allows Travolta and Uma Thurman, as an ex-showgirl who owns a record company, to make it onto the dance floor (though not as memorably as in Pulp Fiction). The rest is a parade of well-acted characters and cameos (Cedric the Entertainer, Andre 3000, Harvey Keitel, Danny DeVito), blatant product placement and personal plugs for Steven Tyler and Christina Milian. Vince Vaughn tears it up as a red-suited white-boy gangsta, leaving behind a litany of lingo we'll be hearing imitations of all year. The movie is a fun reunion of sorts and a new spin on the senseless sequel.

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