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Film / Be Cool

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Be Cool is a 2005 crime comedy film directed by F. Gary Gray, starring John Travolta, Uma Thurman, and a host of other well known actors, singers, and celebrities. It is a sequel to the 1995 film Get Shorty, with Travolta reprising his role as Chili Palmer. Both films are based on a series of novels by author Elmore Leonard.

Former Mafia Loan Shark Chili Palmer (Travolta) is a Hollywood producer who has grown jaded with the movie industry, and now wants to try his hand at the music business. He finds his chance when he meets Linda Moon (Christina Milian), a gifted young singer whose talents are going to waste under her current manager. Certain that she can become a superstar, Chili takes Linda under his wing and introduces her to Edie Athens (Thurman), the widow of an old friend—who Chili saw murdered just the day before—who now has full control of her former husband's record company.

In short order, Chili learns that his new career path might not have been the safest choice. Seemingly everyone in the industry suddenly wants a piece of him: from Linda's former manager, to the Russian mafia, wannabe gangstas, actual gangstas under the employ of a celebrity producer, a flamboyantly gay bodyguard, and a pair of cops that have had their eye on Chili for quite some time. However, Chili has a shady past of his own, and those gunning for him quickly discover that he knows how to play the game better than anyone in the business.

Be Cool provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: These are peppered throughout, as the film has fun with its Ensemble Cast.
    • A prime example is Dwayne Johnson, who plays gay bodyguard and wannabe-movie star Elliot Wilhelm, and who's perhaps best known as "The Rock" from his former pro-wrestling career.
      Linda Moon: "He can raise just one eyebrow at a time]... and that's all he thinks it takes to be an actor."
    • There's also the dance scene with Chili and Edie, a clear nod to Vince and Mia's dance in Pulp Fiction.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Elliot once threw a man off a building for calling him gay.
  • As Himself: Edie used to be one of Aerosmith's roadies, so she arranges a meeting between Chili and Steven Tyler, leading to Linda showing up in the band's next concert to turn "Cryin'" into a duet.
  • Anti-Villain: Oddly enough, Sin LaSalle has shades of this. The main reason he wants the money is due to principle, he kills the Russian mob leader for calling him the N-Word, but more because he used it hatefully than it being directed at him and he's seen having a good time with Chili near the end of the movie. He is also deeply moved by Linda Moon's music, and supports her career.
    • Berserk Button: It probably had more to do with the fact that the man called him a "fag."
  • Batter Up!: Gangsta wanna-be Raji Lowenthal uses this method to get even with another character who insulted his manner of speech... only after said character was already incapacitated, of course.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Harvey Keitel plays Nick Karr, one of the central antagonists of the film. In Get Shorty, he had a cameo as himself.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The idiot car rental employee that gives Chili his car at the beginning answers to Chili's statement that he explicitly ordered a Cadillac that The Alleged Car he's giving him (a hybrid) is "the Cadillac of hybrids", similar to the Oldsmobile minivan Chili got on the first movie being described as "the Cadillac of minivans".
  • Creator Killer: In-Universe, the sequel to Get Leo, which Chili was forced to make by Executive Meddling and did so poorly he wants out of the movie industry altogether.
  • Dodgy Toupee: Bulkin has one, and it flies off when LaSalle double taps him.
  • Exact Words: Just like in the previous film, Chili explicitly requests a Cadillac from the car rental service and he is given a hybrid, a Honda Insight, which is most definitely not a Cadillac-brand vehicle but the rental service man explains as "the Cadillac (as in has a similar good reputation) of hybrids" when Chili protests.
  • Gentle Giant: Elliot again.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face/Reckless Gun Usage: Dabu exhibits a terrifyingly poor grasp of basic gun safety throughout the movie, always keeping his finger on the trigger and resulting in accidental discharge more than once and one actual fatality. Dabu is at least somewhat self-aware, lampshading his poor gun handling by telling his boss that if he doesn't want this sort of thing to happen, he shouldn't give Dabu a gun in the first place.
  • I Never Got Any Letters: Raji has been deleting Elliot's answering machine when he finds out that Chili has been getting him acting auditions. Chili proves his treachery when he teaches Elliot to check the messages on his cell phone, where he finds duplicates of the deleted messages.
  • Lampshade Hanging/Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
  • Living MacGuffin: Linda Moon is a driving force of the plot, but has very little screen time and little character outside of being a great singer.
  • Manchild: Elliot and his wigga boss Raji.
  • Man on Fire: An enraged Elliot shoots at Raji, hits the fireworks boxes next to him and set the guy on fire. He then runs into a nearby music video set... and as the Grammy ceremony shows, they kept the footage in the final cut!
  • The Mafiya: Roman Bulkin and his outfit.
  • Meaningful Name: This is seen with several of the characters in the film. A notable example is "Sin" LaSalle, who will go to any lengths, up to and including murder, to get what is owed him... or just to get even with those who disrespect him.
  • Nice Guy: Elliot, too nice to be a bodyguard in the first place, much less for a jerk like Raji.
  • Precision F-Strike: Used as a Take That! to the MPAA ratings board, since Be Cool received a PG-13 rating.
    Chili: Did you know that you can only use the F-word once in a movie and still get a PG-13 rating? You know what I say to that? Fuck it... I'm done.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Raji tries to be as gangsta as possible, speaking in ebonics and dressing up like a stereotype, but it only gets him mockery from more established producers.
  • Real Award, Fictional Character: Linda Moon's pop single wins her a Grammy.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: Invoked by celebrity music producer Sin LaSalle, who chastises his cousin Dabu when the latter pulls up to Sin's house in a big black Hummer, with spinning rims and rap music blasting from the stero.
    Sin: Man, why you gotta reinforce the stereotype? I live here. I'm on the neighborhood watch.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Karen Flores, Chili's girlfriend in the previous film, is completely absent from Be Cool without explanation.