Some people may say that sequels are never as good as their predecessors, and “Be Cool,” the decade-later follow-up to “Get Shorty,” does little to prove otherwise. Former loan shark Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is tired of movie-producing and wants to try his hand at the music business. He woos the widowed record label owner, Edie Athens (Uma Thurman), who helps him break an aspiring singer, Linda Moon (R&B singer Christina Milian), into stardom.
While the movie is supposed to continue the “Get Shorty Plot,” it ends up copying it, only substituting movies for music. Perhaps the writer thought that because of the 10-year gap between films, the same plot would still be new and exciting, but instead it proves dull and predictable. Even Travolta could not breathe life to the same jokes and slick one-liners he spoke in “Get Shorty.” The scene where Travolta and Thurman attempt to re-create their dance sequence from “Pulp Fiction” does nothing for the film except make viewers wish they were watching Quentin Tarantino’s classic film instead.
In spite of the repetitive plot, the overwhelming number of appealing actors and musicians saves the film. Travolta does not have many scenes for a lead role, but he is hardly missed when other characters add their unique humor. The best supporting characters are Vince Vaughn’s Raji and The Rock’s Elliot. Raji is a white talent manager who tries to be black, and Elliot is his flamboyantly gay bodyguard who tries to break into acting. The pair brighten an otherwise lackluster story and are hilarious to watch. Another notable addition is a black millionaire rapper, Sin (Cedric the Entertainer), who is followed by an entourage (that includes André 3000) in three bass-pounding, suped-up black Hummers. The comedy is the only aspect of the film that keeps it afloat. The actual storyline of producing the pop star, Linda Moon, is weak and slow.
Despite a plot hinging on the music business, there is more singing and performing in the film than expected. Linda (Milian) performs on several occasions (including one at the “MTV Video Music Awards”), and even an Aerosmith concert is incorporated. For these reasons alone the film has potential to end up on VH1’s “Movies That Rock” in a couple years. If only Milian’s real music career was as successful as Linda Moon’s.
While “Be Cool” is surely not award-winning material, it serves the purpose of entertaining an audience and make for a fun weekend movie. The film fits the sequel role: It is laidback, has an engaging yet expected plot, and it mixes in amusing and upbeat characters to produce a mediocre film.
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5