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Movie Review

In this sequel to the 1995 comedy Get Shorty, former mob collector Chili Palmer tires of the movie business and decides to take on the music industry. After his friend is whacked by Russian mobsters, Chili partners with Edie Athens, his friend’s widow and head of her own independent record label. Together, they work to turn Linda Moon, a talented young singer, into a star.

Problems arise. Linda has an existing music contract with Raji, a profane and insulting rap thug. Raji works for Nick Carr, who hires a hit man to take Chili out. Meanwhile, the Russians are also trying to kill Chili because he can ID them for killing his friend. To top it off, record producer Sin LaSalle and his hit rap group called Dub-MD are demanding Chili and Edie pay him the $300,000 owed by her husband.

With a little help from a ridiculous script, his own essential coolness and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, Chili works the angles to get himself into a winning position.

Positive Elements

Every movie eventually ends, even this one.

Spiritual Content

When asked why she doesn’t dance topless for more money, Linda explains that she’s Baptist and her father wouldn’t approve.

Sexual Content

Women sing and dance in revealing tops and short shorts on several occasions. A rock music poster shows a naked woman’s torso. Raji is seen in a strip club surrounded by women dancing in small bikinis. And he yells sexually crude things at Linda. Steven Tyler makes a crass comment to Edie. Others also interject sexual slang and crudities.

Raji’s bodyguard is said to be gay but to get very angry when called "fag" or "queer." Of course, we hear him called those things often throughout the film. To elevate the smirk factor, he says and does things meant to seem comically gay. For instance, he tries on a tight, powder blue cowboy suit and slaps his rump repeatedly. At one point, his description of how he likes to eat chicken drumsticks is meant to mimic fellatio.

Edie is seen lying face down and topless (all she's wearing is a very small string bikini). More is revealed as she puts her top on and turns over, and the camera examines her exposed (but not completely nude) body closely. She wears low-cut and revealing clothes in several other scenes. And she has a tattoo of Aerosmith’s logo on her backside (which we see). She and Chili dance suggestively in a club as the group Black Eyed Peas plays a live version of their song “Sexy.” (The clearly understood lyrics graphically describe a sexual encounter.) Eventually, Chili and Edie kiss passionately and wake up in bed together, implying they’ve had sex. Another couple is also briefly seen fooling around.

Violent Content

No fewer than four people are shot and killed at close range, and we see mostly bloodless bullet wounds on their clothed bodies. One dead body is comically flopped around. Several male characters get punched hard in the face, including a Russian mobster who sports black eyes for most the film.

A thuggish rap group and their manager carry large handguns that they regularly draw and point at other characters in a threatening manner. One of them fires his gun accidentally twice, once killing a man. Raji ruthlessly beats a man to death with a baseball bat (the camera sees very little of the victim). Someone else later swings the same lethal bat and misses his target. A character catches fire when some fireworks are set off, and his resulting screams and flailing are intended for laughs.

Crude or Profane Language

In 1995, Get Shorty carried an R-rating and included close to 100 uses of the f-word. In the opening moments of this PG-13 sequel, Chili notes to a friend that you’re allowed only one f-word to keep a PG-13 rating. Then he says it. From that moment on, the filmmakers aggressively explore the limits of the PG-13 language barrier, delivering more than 35 s-words (including variations), more than 25 uses of "a--" (as insult, physical description and in combination with “hole”), at least 20 uses of "b--ch" (including the variation “bee-awch”) and a dozen uses each of "d--n" and "h---." "D--k" and “balls" make appearances. And God’s name is marred about 10 times; Jesus' is used for swearing close to a half-dozen times (at least once combined with Christ).

Drug and Alcohol Content

For Chili, being cool means he has to smoke. A lot. Even in L.A. restaurants where it’s illegal in real life. Many characters smoke and drink in clubs, homes and offices. Edie is seen recovering from a hangover after a night of drinking following the death of her husband.

When asked about the meaning behind the lyrics of Aerosmith's “Sweet Emotion,” Steven Tyler says that at the time he wrote it he was often high and the buzz was a sweet emotion. Then he says maybe it was just the rock 'n' roll. (Chili suggests that the sweet emotion actually came from Tyler’s daughters, and Tyler agrees.)

Other Negative Elements

Racial epithets are spouted, including “n-gger” and "wop." One character flips off another. Edie wears a tight black T-shirt that says “widow” after the death of her husband. The film is two whole hours long.

Conclusion

After 10 years, you’ve got to wonder who was asking for this sequel. After two hours, viewers will be wondering why they asked for a ticket. Be Cool is the perfect triple threat: stupid, boring and offensive. It’s the whole package.

Aside from a few clever references about the entertainment business and some rare funny moments from individual performers, the movie drags itself through endless scenes, a pointless plot and dated characters built on insulting stereotypes: Hey, that white guy is talking and acting like a thuggish black rapper! Hey, those thuggish black rappers drive blingy Hummers and wear their pants really low! Hey, that big guy is acting gay, but he won’t admit he is! Hey, haven’t I seen all of this somewhere before? Hey, when does this get funny?

In place of effective comedy, Be Cool piles on the sex, violence and language. Director F. Gary Gray admitted to darkhorizons.com that he would have preferred to create an R-rated film. “The producers and the studio wanted to make a PG-13 movie," he complained. "The Italian Job was my first PG-13 movie, and I struggled through that one. But you challenge yourself and you say, ‘Can you make something that’s smart, that’s entertaining, without going there, and sometimes when you go there it’s the easy way out.”

After seeing the result, you wonder how much more smart and entertaining the film would have been had the team taken the "easy way out" with the addition of 100 f-words and more blood and sex. As it is, Gray's version goes as far "there" as the MPAA's ever-loosening definition of PG-13 will allow. Not too cool.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

PG-13

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

John Travolta as Chili Palmer; Uma Thurman as Edie Athens; Vince Vaughn as Raji; Cedric the Entertainer as Sin LaSalle; Harvey Keitel as Nick Carr; The Rock as Elliot Wilhelm; André 3000 as Dabu; Steven Tyler as Himself

Director

F. Gary Gray ( )

Distributor

MGM

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Christopher Lyon

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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