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 1995 film of the same name) about mobster Chili Palmer's entrance into the music industry.
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|
|Distributed by||MGM Distribution Co.|
|Box office||$95.2 million|
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, restless after years of filmmaking, enters the music industry after witnessing a Russian mob execute his friend Tommy Athens, owner of a record company. Chili offers to help his friend's widow, Edie Athens, manage the failing business, which owes $300,000 to hip-hop producer Sin LaSalle.
Chili is impressed by singer Linda Moon and helps free her from contractual obligations to Nick Carr and Raji, who has a gay Samoan bodyguard named Elliott, an aspiring actor and the butt of Carr and Raji's homophobic jokes. Carr and Raji hire a hitman, Joe "Loop" Lupino to kill Chili before he can save Edie's company by arranging a live performance for Linda along with Steven Tyler and Aerosmith.
Lasalle demands payment of the $300,000, but agrees to give Chili a few days to get the money plus the vig. When the Russians attempt to kill Chili, Joe Loop mistakenly kills Ivan Argianiyev, the Russian Mob's hitman. Carr is furious about the mistake and demands that Raji talks to Loop at once. Raji then kills Loop with a metal baseball bat after Loop "disrespects" him.
Carr then tries to trick Chili by handing him a pawn ticket, claiming that Linda's contract is being held at a pawn shop owned by the Russians. Chili being much smarter than Car anticipated, has Edie give the ticket to the police, who pay the Russians a visit. Raji and Elliott set up LaSalle by making him believe that Carr tricked Chili in giving him the $300,000 to get Linda's contract. LaSalle and the DubMD confront Carr in his office, as do Bulkin and his men. Insulted by Bulkin's racist remarks, LaSalle kills him.
Chili squeezes in a dance scene with Edie (a nod to the "Twist Contest" scene in Pulp Fiction), celebrating as Linda Moon gets to make her appearance with Aerosmith in concert. Based on Linda's success in that concert, Chili tempers LaSalle by making him her producer.
But Carr is not accepting any deal, so he makes Raji put Elliott to kill Chili. By assuring Elliott that he can help his acting career, Chili befriends him. After learning that Chili had gotten him an audition for a Nicole Kidman film, Elliott turns on Raji, who had erased the message 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 Chili makes sure he is caught with the bat used to kill Joe Loop.
At the MTV Video Music Awards, Linda wins the awards for best new artist and video of the year. During her acceptance speech, she thanks Edie, Sin and Chili. Edie and Chili leave the award ceremony. And as Chili drives off, he passes a billboard revealing that Elliott is the co-star of a new movie 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
- André Benjamin as Dabu
- Robert Pastorelli as Joseph "Joe Loop" Lupino
- Christina Milian as Linda Moon
- Paul Adelstein as Hyman Gordon
- Debi Mazar as Marla
- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Elliot Wilhelm
- Gregory Alan Williams as Darryl
- Harvey Keitel as Nick Carr
- Danny DeVito as Martin Weir
- Seth Green as "Shotgun" the Music Video Producer (uncredited)
- James Woods as Tommy Athens
- Alex Kubik as Roman Bulkin
- George Fisher as Ivan Argianiyev
- Serdar Kalsin as Semyon
- Anthony J. Ribustello as Fast Freddie
- Kimberly J. Brown as Tiffany
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"
- "Marvelous Things" – 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 171 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".