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Unforgivable Shite

This sequel to 'Get Shorty' is one of the least-cool things ever to see the light of day

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Be Cool was directed by F. Gary Gray. I mention this, not because I think you'll have heard of him, but because he's a real person. Who used his real name. On this movie. It's like he signed it. This is tantamount to taking a dump in the movie theater and putting your business card in it--you know, in case someone really likes it and wants to see your next "piece."

Not only did F. Gary Gray admit to making this film; he made it 114 minutes long. I guess it had to be that long in order to include all the shockingly pointless scenes of banal dialogue that did not advance the plot, develop the characters or contain anything funny. Here is a sample of dialogue from a scene that wasted several minutes of my life:

Little girl: Pancakes?

Dad: Pancakes with cinnamon and butter and syrup!

Little girl: I don't want pancakes!

Dad: You eat up your pancakes!

Mom: You kids don't know how good you have it!

Dad: We didn't get pancakes when we were kids!

I should point out that this is not a movie about pancakes or parenthood, and that nothing in this scene connects to the rest of the film. Be Cool is supposed to be a comedy, but unless you think pancakes are inherently funny (they are circular!), I can't imagine the point of this.

Still, in case you're actually tempted to go see Be Cool (and among the things I would recommend ahead of that are necrophilia, voting for Hitler, shaving your pubic area with a cheese grater and having a private sexual relationship with Paris Hilton), let me briefly recount the plot: John Travolta tries to act cool.

This is a sequel to Get Shorty, which had the same plot, only with the addition of an actual script. This time, in lieu of that, there's a lot of winking at the audience. Like, the film begins with Travolta and James Woods talking about how lame sequels are. The rest of the movie, apparently, is a demonstration of this.

Soon, Woods is shot dead, and Travolta, as former mobster and current movie producer Chili Palmer, is embroiled in the music industry. Why? Because he goes to see a mediocre performance by a singer named Linda Moon (played by mediocre performer Christina Milian), and everyone keeps raving about how great it is.

This is one of the worst mistakes any movie can make: Having all of the characters on screen mooning over some half-assed piece of shite song that any sane person would be embarrassed by does not make that song good. It does not convince the audience the song is good. At best, it makes the entire film seem tragically unhip. In case you think I'm being overly harsh, here are the actual lyrics from that song:

I'm singing a song

That's inside of me

Because

I'm a beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-

lieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeever!

So anyway, Chili Palmer and his business partner, Edie Athens (played by Uma Thurman's ass), are being stalked by gun-wielding African Americans, the Russian mafia and Harvey Keitel. Along the way, they have to deal with a gay bodyguard (The Rock, playing against type and without any material in what is no doubt a tragic waste of his fading celebrity) and everyone's least-favorite movie cliché, the white guy who talks black (Vince Vaughn, who's actually just annoying enough to make this character kind of amusing.)

On the up side, André 3000, your second-favorite member of Outkast, is actually pretty funny as Dabu, a rapper who likes to shoot people with a gun. Because rappers, you see, are likely to be "gangsters" who get off on " popping caps" into people's "asses." Somehow, Mr. 3000 (here credited by his given name of André Benjamin) manages to get laughs out of lines that are inherently joke-free. It's quite a feat, and I'm hoping someone will actually hand him a real script and make him a comedy star, or at least forgive him for having appeared in Be Cool.

Though that's going to be hard to do, as Be Cool is pretty much unforgivable. The absolute depths of self-congratulatory depravity to which this film sinks are perhaps best illustrated by the fact that it includes a scene where a character makes an acceptance speech at an awards show, and thanks all the other characters. Real acceptance speeches at real awards shows are notoriously unpleasant to sit through, so why anyone would put one in a work of fiction is beyond me. And it's not even played for laughs: It's supposed to be touching. This film actually gives itself an award and does it with no irony! No more need be said.

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