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Film / Get Shorty

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"I got an idea for a movie."
Chili Palmer

Loan shark Chili Palmer hates his job, especially with his new boss still holding a grudge over that time Chili broke his nose and shot at him. When a dry cleaner in to him for a hundred large dies on a plane, he goes to the wife to see if the insurance settlement can cover his debt, only to find out that the son of a bitch isn't dead. So Chili follows the dry cleaner to Las Vegas to find he's moved on to Los Angeles. While he's in LA, he agrees to do a favor for the casino management and check in with a movie producer who still owes on a marker. Chili, however, is something of a movie aficionado, and likes the idea of working in the movie business — so when he meets Harry, the producer, he takes the opportunity to pitch his story to him. They hit it off, so to get Harry to help him make his movie, he agrees to help Harry with his money problems. The story takes off from there as Chili tangles with Harry's crooked creditors, helps him raise the money to make what he thinks will be his best movie ever, and ultimately puts off his old boss as he gets involved in the movie business.

A 1990 novel by Elmore Leonard, Get Shorty was adapted into a 1995 film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, starring John Travolta as Chili alongside an all-star cast including Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, and Rene Russo. Both the novel and movie are an Affectionate Parody of the film industry, and both so well-received that Leonard wrote a rare sequel, Be Cool, which also received a film adaptation, though neither managed to repeat the success of the original. In 2017, a television adaptation loosely inspired by the original premiered on MGM+, with an original cast and story.

The novel and film provide examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: The man who picks up Ray at the airport in LA mispells Ray's surname (Barboni) as "Barbone" on the sign he has with him. Ray says he hopes the man can drive better than he can spell.
  • Actor Allusion: Alex Rocco receives a body massage in a similar manner to Moe Green before his assassination.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Sort of. In the book, Ray Bones is a lot more menacing and a lot less of a complete moron than he is in the movie. However, while for much of the book he's mentioned as an ominous soon-to-arrive threat, when he eventually shows up Chili ends up dealing with him fairly quickly, and he's taken out of the picture earlier. However, in the movie, while he's a lot stupider he's also around more often, shows up in Los Angeles much sooner, and isn't finally dealt with until right at the end, so consequently is a lot more of an active threat. Specifically, the scene where he shows up at Harry's office, beats the crap out of Harry and then shoots Ronnie doesn't appear in the book.
  • Adapted Out: The book goes into much more detail about the plot of Lovejoy than the movie, in which the only clue we get to what it's actually about is that the title character is "following somebody."
  • Affably Evil:
    • Chili himself is affable to the point of being the nicest guy on the planet, even though he's a loan shark and shakedown artist extraordinaire. He'll only hit you if he has to, and even then he'll help you get back on your feet. He's so likable that the "evil" part falls under serious question even if he works as a criminal.
    • Bo Catlett is a pretty charming guy, but when you scratch the surface is a vicious sociopath underneath.
  • Always Camp: Actors and directors. Loan sharks, punk rockers and producers, not so much.
  • Angrish: Ray Bones, usually after a run in with Chilli.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Karen, despite knowing Chili is a criminal, she gets involved with him. This ends up getting her kidnapped and nearly killed.
  • Anti-Hero: Chili's a mobster. Not a strong example, though, since throughout the movie he makes it clear that while he can back it up, most of his threats needn't be heeded because he's just so intimidating. When he's not shaking people down or intimidating people, he's also a very likeable and charming guy in many ways, and is smart enough to get what he wants without having to hurt anyone.
  • As Himself: The final scene of the movie is the filming of Chili's movie. In it, Harvey Keitel plays himself playing Ray Bones, and Penny Marshall plays herself as the director.
  • Author Avatar: In-Universe, as the main character in the Show Within a Show is based on Chili.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Chili is very pleasant, calm and affable, but don't mistake that for being a pushover.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Yayo's name is Spanish slang for cocaine. He's from a Colombian cocaine cartel.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Chili, while a gangster and a loan shark, is an incredibly charming and likable guy who, while he can be incredibly intimidating, rarely uses force or violence unless he's provoked into it. His opponents Ray "Bones" and Bo Catlett however, have practically no redeeming characteristics whatsoever.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Harry uses Chili's "Look at me" line on Ray Bones. Bad move.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Two, actually. There's the $500K of drug money at the airport, and there's Leo's $300,000 in a duffel bag, which was the reason Chili went to LA to begin with.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Weir describers doing his acting research in Bensonhurst to capture New Yorkers' unique attitudes. Chili, however, is a subversion as he's one of the most even-tempered characters in the movie, even while others goad him.
  • Casting Gag: In the novel, Harry and Chili discuss Harry's dream casting for the main role in Lovejoy. He says that if Gene Hackman was available, they'd already be shooting it. Hackman plays Harry himself in the film adaptation.
  • Catchphrase: "Look at me," said by Chilli to someone who he wants the full attention of.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The $500,000 dollars in drug money sitting in a rented locker at the airport; it's there for the taking, with the snag that it's been sussed out by DEA agents who are have it under 24/7 surveillance waiting to pounce on whoever opens the locker and bust them. Ray "Bones" is the unlucky S.O.B who ends up opening the locker.
    • Chili takes $310,000 from Leo early on when he catches up to him. It ends up having to be used to pay off Bo after he kidnaps Karen.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Karen is established to have a terrific scream that she has used throughout her career as a "scream queen." When Bo holds Chili at gunpoint in her home, she lets loose her patented scream, which distracts Bo enough to miss his shot. Unfortunately for her, he then takes her captive.
  • The Chessmaster: Chili. He's the smartest guy in every room, and manages to work the following Gambit Pileup threads to his advantage, all at the same time:
    • Harry needs the limo guys off his back so he can make his movie.
    • The limo guys want Chili out of the way so they can be the chief investors on Harry's movie. And they need money to pay off the Colombian drug lords, to replace the aforementioned watched $500K.
    • Leo wants to escape Chili with his life insurance payout.
    • Harry wants Martin Weir to star in his movie
    • Ray Bones wants Leo's money and revenge on Chili.
      • With all that going on, Chili manages to get his own movie made with a big star, get the girl and get out from under Bones and the limo guys by playing one against the other
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Ray Bones. To everyone. All the time.
    "They say the fuckin' smog's the fuckin' reason you have such beautiful fuckin' sunsets."
    • (Ray directs a cab driver where he's heading) "The fuckin' airport!"
    • Precisely 50% of Harvey Keitel's dialogue as Bones in the in-universe film.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Martin greets Karen warmly every time they meet and one time asks her why they're not still together. She reminds him that he slept with Nikki at her birthday party to which Martin responds nostalgically "that was a great party."
  • Creator Cameo: Barry Sonnenfeld is the doorman at the hotel greeting Leo as he exits a limo.
  • Creator's Oddball: In-Universe. Harry, a producer known for over-the-top horror films, is eager to produce "Mr. Lovejoy", a serious film about a man trying to avenge the accidental death of his son. He refers to it as "my Driving Miss Daisy".
  • Damsel in Distress: Karen is kidnapped by Bo and rescued by her lover, Chili.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Chili. He has dark hair and dresses mainly in dark clothing, especially at the start of the film, but is a fairly pleasant guy to be around, unless you piss him off.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Karen, very sassy woman.
  • Death Glare: Chili makes good use of these, often commanding people "Look at me" to that he can aim one at them. Martin is intrigued by it so much that he spends a scene trying to imitate it, with Chili coaching him on how to do it right.
    • Harry's attempt to copy the effect with Ray Bones is a hilarious Epic Fail.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After Chili beats up Bear (twice), the two men begin to bond over Bear's stuntman career, and an impressed Chili asks whether Bear worked on any films he would have seen. Bear ends up joining Chili's side, though this is also because Bo threatens his daughter.
  • Destination Defenestration: After Ray shoots Ronnie dead and explains to Harry that it should look like Harry did it in self-defense, Ray tells Harry I Was Never Here, and warns him that if he tells anyone about it, he will come back and throw Harry out the office window.
  • Died on Their Birthday: At the beginning of the film, the mob boss Momo goes to what he thinks is a dangerous sit-down with rival gangsters. It turns out it's a surprise birthday party. He promptly keels over dead.
  • The Ditz: A variation; Ray Bones is a big, intimidating mobster. He's also a complete fucking idiot.
    Ray Bones: Let me explain something to you. Momo is dead. Which means that everything he had now belongs to Jimmy Cap, including you. Which also means, that when I speak, I speak for Jimmy. E.g., from now on, you start showing me the proper fucking respect.
    Chili: "E.g." means "for example". What I think you want to say is "i.e.".
    Ray Bones: Bullshit. It's short for "ergo".
    Chili: Ask your man.
    Bodyguard: Best of my knowledge, "e.g." means "for example".
    Ray Bones: E.g., i.e., fuck you! The point is this: is that, When I say "jump", you say "OK", okay?
  • Dramatic Shattering: When Leo returns to his suite, Chili is there and spooks him by revealing his presence after Leo downs a drink. Leo drops the glass and it smashes on the floor.
  • Dynamic Entry: Chili pops Ray Bones in the nose the second he opens the door, then calmly collects his leather jacket and leaves.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Ray is introduced as a self-important moron by leaving his table to deliver a bad insult and then laugh at his own joke twice, with his lackies assuring him that it was a real zinger. This establishes Ray as a dumb jerk who is hostile to Chili.
    • Chili gets his shortly afterward, when Ray nicks his coat as a dominance move. Chili pulls on a set of heavy leather gloves as he has his buddy drive him over to Ray's condo, walks straight to his door, punches him full-on in the face when he answers, then calmly picks up his coat and walks back out. This lets us know that Chili is a charming and affable guy who keeps his cool, but he's not somebody you want to piss off.
  • Everyone Has Standards: When Ray goes to his boss to have Chili whacked for punching him in the nose and then shooting him in his hair when he tries to take revenge, his boss tells him off for not only because Chili is protected by Momo, but also taking Chili's ex-wife's leather coat was way over the line.
  • Evil Is Petty: Ray Bones seems to love pulling gratuitous power plays just because he can, first stealing Chili's jacket near the beginning and later deliberately approaching the curb about ten feet ahead of his taxi, forcing the cabbie to pull further up for him.
  • Exact Words: When going over to Ray's house to confront him over stealing his coat, Chili assures his partner that he "won't say any more than he has to, if that". When he gets there, he breaks Ray's nose, grabs his coat and leaves, not saying a word.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: When Ray threatens Chili after Momo's death, then leaves the room, Chili tells Ray's hired muscle he can do better than Ray. He replies "Not these days, not unless you speak Spanish."
  • Fish out of Water: Lampshaded, but subverted. Chili's direct manner is frequently discussed as being at odds with the Hollywood machine, yet he's well-liked by all the actors, agents and other Hollywood archetypes he encounters.
    Bo: It says here you're getting Martin Weir for the part of Lovejoy?
    Chili: That's right, we're getting Martin.
    Bo: Come on, how you gonna do that?
    Bo: I wonder, would that work?
  • Foreshadowing: Bo kills Yayo by shooting him and knocking him over his balcony, and tells Bear afterwards he could loosen the balcony and kill Chili by knocking him over the edge. At the end, Bear kills Bo with said loose balcony. Chili does go over the edge, but Bear saves him.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The newspaper article about Ronnie's murder states that he was shot four times in the chest and once in the foot. It notes that the police refuse to disclose which foot. The article also contains a number of grammar and copyediting errors that were likely unintentional but prove fittingly hilarious when you consider Bo's assertions that writing is easy if you get someone else to fix the spelling and punctuation.
  • Gambit Pileup: Everybody but Karen and Bear has an agenda in the movie, and those agendas collide with one another more often than they work out as planned. Chili plays them all like a finely-tuned piano.
  • Get Out!: After Chili first breaks into Karen's house and she discovers him talking with Harry, she calmly orders both of them out.
  • Groin Attack: Chili is a Combat Pragmatist when he needs to be, and does this to Bear.
  • Hand Gagging: Bo puts his hand over Karen's mouth after she screams to kidnap her.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: Chili at one point watches Touch of Evil in a movie theater, and Karen joins in for the end, which Chili doesn't realise until he turns and sees her after it has ended (she was sitting behind him).
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Bo gets killed by the same trap he created to kill Chili
  • Horrible Hollywood: Zig-Zagged Trope: there's plenty of plain jerks and dim people, but there's also plenty of people who are very nice and wanting to make an artistic project that only takes a Seinfeldian Conversation to convince... and then there's the people who are murderous jerks and take a "no" in any context as a homicide-worthy offense.
  • I Was Never Here: After giving Harry an ass-kicking and them murdering Ronnie, Ray says this while putting the gun in Harry's hand and explaining that Harry did it in self defense.
  • Ironic Nickname: "Chili" Palmer is always cool as a cucumber even when he's being legitimately threatening or violent. He apparently was much more of a hothead when he originally earned his nickname, and it just stuck.
  • Kick the Dog: Ray establishes that he's not just an asshole, but a real villain when he punches Leo's wife.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Ray takes Chili's jacket, which had Chili's car keys in it, at the start of the film. In retaliation, when Chili goes to retrieve the coat, he punches Ray in the face and breaks his nose.
    • For threatening Bear's daughter, Bear loosens Bo's balcony and pushes him over it. The irony is that Bo had earlier told Bear to do this to kill Chili. While Chili falls over the edge at the same time, Bear saves Chili while Bo falls to his death.
  • The Load: While Harry Zimm approaches Chili to solve his problems, it soon becomes apparent that Chili would be much better off if he just ditched Harry and went into things by himself. Chili's sense of honour, however, sees him playing more-or-less right by Harry regardless.
  • Loan Shark - Chili's trade, often called a "shylock" by various characters. In the book, he notes that he does not use the standard knee-breaking tactics that most people expect from loan sharks, because people with broken knees are even less likely to produce any money.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Bo calls Yayo Yahoo twice when Yayo wants to collect the money in the airport locker, and from the way he says it, it's implied he's getting the name wrong on purpose. He also calls him Yoyo when he talks to Bear after Ronnie's death.
  • Mirror Character: Chili and Bo Catlett are both very elegant and stylish men who are career criminals but for reasons of birth don't entirely fit in with the criminal organisations they work for, passionately love movies and are fascinated by the movie business, and view the posturing, obnoxious behaviour of their fellow criminals with a certain amount of withering contempt.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Bear, who ultimately pushes his abusive boss Bo off the same railing he wanted rigged to give "like in the movies" for Chili. It's unwise to threaten your henchman's daughter.
  • The Mafia: Chili's a shylock for the Miami mob, though aside from Chili and Ray Bones, most of the wiseguys are bit parts.
  • Mob Debt: The inciting incident of the film is Chili Palmer, a Loan Shark affiliated with the Brooklyn mob, getting sent to Las Vegas in pursuit of a man named Leo who skipped out on a debt, and his wife, after defrauding his life insurance company when a plane he was supposed to be on crashed on takeoff. The casino sends him on to Los Angeles where Leo is staying, and has him take on the additional job of recovering a gambling debt from B-Movie director Harry Zimm.
  • The Napoleon: Martin is a powerful but mercurial personality who is also very short. He has also recently played Napoleon in an Oscar Bait movie. The character in the book was apparently based on Dustin Hoffman, but in the film he's played by the even shorter Danny Devito.
  • Nepotism: Yayo Portillo only has his job because his uncle is the cartel boss who doesn't think much of him only gave him the job for the sake of his sister, even saying "personally I think he's a retard."
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: "Mr. Escobar," the husky, mustachioed, Colombian cartel boss is obviously supposed to stand in for Pablo Escobar, who was already dead by the time the film came out.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: After Chili repeatedly defeats Ray Bones early in the movie, you could be excused for thinking that Bones isn't much of an adversary for Chili. And while he might not be a match for the supremely competent Chili, the way Bones effortlessly beats the snot out of Harry, kills Ronnie, and then successfully arranges the scene to incriminate Harry and leave no trace of his presence shows that he's no pushover and is a dangerous and ruthless criminal.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Ray has one soon after Chili breaks his nose. Chili realises Ray is coming to his office, so he pulls out his gun and when Ray opens the door, Chili shoots at him. Ray panics and gets the hell out of there.
    • Harry has one when he gets up in the middle of the night, finds the TV on, then Chili, behind him, turns it off and says his name.
    • Harry has another one soon after meeting Chili, when Chili points out that Bo, Ronnie and Bear have just arrived outside his office building.
    • Yayo has just enough time for one before Bo shoots him dead and knocks him over the railing.
    • Bo gets an understated but very noticeable one when he learns that Yayo wasn't just any lowly goon, but the nephew of Mr. Escobar, a very powerful cartel boss who now wants to know what happened to both Yayo and the money he was sent to retrieve.
    • Both Chili and Bo have one when Bear pushes them against Bo's balcony and it comes loose, causing them to fall over the edge. Bear saves Chili, while Bo falls to his death.
  • Oscar Bait: In-Universe. Chili mentions that Martin Weir's best performance was as a "crippled gay guy who climbed Mt. Whitney."
  • Overcomplicated Menu Order: While sitting in a restaurant, Karen explains to Chili that celebrities will always order something that is not on the menu, and then leave without eating it. On cue, Martin Weir enters, orders a strange egg-white omelette and beverages for everyone, has a brief conversation with Karen and Chili, and then leaves just before the order arrives.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: One of Bo's thugs tries to threaten Ray Bones with a gun tucked in his waistband. A Too Dumb to Live move if there ever was one, because Ray Bones has his own gun in his hand. Ray says as much before killing him.
  • Precision F-Strike: There's certainly plenty of swearing in the movie, but Chili still knows how to do this for maximum effect.
    Bo: What's this other movie you're doin' first, Harry?
    Harry: Well let me...
    Chili: Harry, Harry, let me answer this one. First of all, who'm I talking to? Am I talking to [Ronnie], or am I talking to you?
    Bo: You can talk to me.
    Chili: That's what I thought. Let me put it this way: Outside of Freaks, it's none of your fuckin' business what we do.
  • Punch-Clock Villain:
    • Bear is an ex-stuntman who has to work for Bo to take care of his daughter. He's clearly a pretty honorable guy and is not very comfortable with Bo's more sociopathic and violent tendencies. He finally stands up to Bo and quits, but is coerced into staying which facilitates his later heel/face turn.
    • Chili himself might count; he's a loan shark, a crook and a gangster, but when he's not shaking down people for money (and even when he is, kind of) he's mostly a rather charming, pleasant and likable guy.
    • Ray Bones's goon is tough and intimidating towards Chili when Bones is in the room, but he makes it clear that he's just doing a job.
    Goon: [Intimidating] This man is the man. You get what I'm saying? This here is Mr. Bones. You speak to Mr. Bones from now on.
    [Bones leaves the room]
    Chili: C'mon, you can do better than him.
    Goon: [Casually] Not these days. Not 'less you speak Spanish.
  • Railing Kill: Bo does this to Yayo, and considered killing Chili by getting him to lean against loose railing.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: In-Universe; Harry says it's not believable that the airline would pay out insurance money that fast, but Karen has already figured out it's a true story.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Ray Bones wears a lot of pastels, including pink, partly due to being from Miami. Bo Catlett's bathroom is also very pink, and he's very protective of his sparkling white carpets. Both of them kill at least one person in cold blood over the course of the story.
  • Real-Person Cameo: Ernesto "Chili" Palmer, Elmore Leonard's inspiration for the lead character, was cast as one of Ray Bones's sycophants and seen in the opening scene.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: This trope is subverted when Ronnie mocks Ray Bones' choice of weapon (AMT Backup, a small but effective pistol). Ronnie, perhaps thinking he's Genre Savvy, says "What's that, a Wop 9? The Fiat of guns, always jammin' on you at the wrong time". Bones just shrugs and happily demonstrates his gun's effectiveness by popping four bullets in Ronnie's chest.
  • Riddle for the Ages: We never find out what Mr. Lovejoy was about. Only Bo and Harry actually read it, and they don't provide any details. All we know is that Lovejoy is watching someone with a camcorder in the first scene.
  • Running Gag:
    • People referring to Chili's rental minivan as "the Cadillac of minivans." Martin gets his own later in the film, and by the end, a whole fleet drives away from the set.
    • Bo getting Yayo's name wrong, either calling him Yahoo or Yo-yo.
  • Screaming Woman: Karen Flores's claim to fame in Harry's low-budget monster movies when she was a young woman. She reveals that even in her late thirties she can still belt one out.
  • Serendipitous Survival: Leo leaves town and gets on a plane, but it develops a mechanical fault and is delayed for over an hour, so he gets off, goes back into the terminal and starts drinking heavily in the cocktail lounge. The plane crashes on takeoff and he would have died if he had stayed on board. And the real irony? The passengers were told over the PA system to remain in their seats. If Leo had listened, he would be dead.
  • Serious Business: Not even Ray's boss thinks Chili went over the line by punching Ray after stealing Chili's coat that was gifted to him by his ex-wife.
  • Shadow Archetype: Bo Catlett loves movies as much as Chili does and can be quite affable, but he's a lot more ostentatious and much more ready to use violence. Also, both have mixed ethnic ancestry. Chili is half-Italian, half-Hispanic, which prevented him from being a bonafide mobster; Catlett is half-black, half-Native American and also experienced prejudice as a child (worse prejudice which explains his much more violent behavior).
  • Shock Party: For poor Momo. He doesn't take it very well.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Chili quotes the Bette Davis line, "I'd kiss you, but I just washed my hair," from The Cabin In The Cotton.
    • Chili goes to see a screening of Touch of Evil, knowing it so well that he repeats the lines.
    • Then Rio Bravo on the TV makes Chili go into another movie buff spiel.
    • When Harvey Keitel is mentioned, Chili says that he was good in Fingers, which Bo has never heard of.
    • Excited at the thought of producing a prestige film, Harry says, "This is gonna be my Driving Miss Daisy!"
    • Chili says he doesn't want to be in stupid family movies and describes the premise of Three Men and a Baby.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: As a joke, Martin Weir does a The Merchant of Venice reference to Chili and Karen. Martin does avarice Hand Rubbing, keeps his eyes closed, and grunts. Martin "realizes" his mistake.
    Martin: I'm doing Shylock instead of a shylock.
  • Skewed Priorities: When confronted by the prospect of an intruder in the home announcing his presence by turning on the TV, Chili gets distracted by the fact that it's Rio Bravo, a great flick. He's almost sucked into watching it when a gunfight breaks out in the movie.
  • The Stoic: Chili Palmer rarely raises his voice or loses his temper that we see.
  • Stupid Crooks: Every single antagonist of this film is an impulsive idiot with a Hair-Trigger Temper and/or constantly underestimates his opponent. A few of them (such as Bo) don't make it any easier on themselves by threatening the people they need in order to make things work (and keep themselves alive).
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Chili is surrounded by Ray Bones, Leo DeVoe, Harry Zimm and Bo Catlett — they're not all necessarily idiots, but they are to a man shortsighted, self-centered and entirely convinced they are neither of those things...
  • Tempting Fate: Jimmy Capp tells Ray, in no uncertain terms, that nothing happens to Chili while Momo is alive. At the end of the next scene, Momo dies from a heart attack.
    • Momo likewise warns his guys that he "doesn't want any surprises". Unfortunately, he's going to where they've thrown him a surprise party, which shocks him enough to give him a heart attack.
  • Title Drop: Karen suggests it as the title of Chili's movie.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Ronnie, Bo's associate, does not seem to understand that a gun in your belt does little good at close range against someone with a drawn weapon.
    • Jimmy Capp calls Ray this for taking Chili's coat, especially as it was a Christmas present.
  • Totally Not a Criminal Front: In Florida and Hollywood! Vesuvio is an Italian restaurant that while might not be owned my the Mafia, they let Ray Bones do whatever he wants there. Rich's Barber Shop, has the barber actually cutting hair, but the backroom is a loan shark office. Even legitimate patrons know it's a front and tip off Chili Palmer when someone is coming by coughing. Bo Catlett runs a limo service that is a front for a small-time drug ring. And one could say the point of the movie is all of Hollywood is a front for organized crime calling themselves Producers.
  • Tranquil Fury: Chili's Backstory reveals that his nickname started as an ironic poke at his temper, but throughout the story nothing sets him off and what little does get him angry warrants a calm, dispassionate Death Glare. The novel also reveals that the nickname stuck because he lost the hot-headedness, and manages his temper through those cool, stony glares instead.
  • Trespassing to Talk: Chili breaks into Karen's house to deliver the shylock message to Harry who's sleeping there -then pitches his movie idea. Karen kicks them both out. The next day she comes home to find Chili waiting in her house to apologize.
    Karen: "You broke in to apologize for breaking in before?"
  • Vertigo Effect: Used when Yayo is looking at the airport locker with the money in it and trying to decide whether or not to go for it and get the money by the risk of getting caught by the DEA agents in the terminal. In the end he can't bring himself to do it.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Ray is reading Martin Weir's book while sitting on the toilet before he gets the call from Harry that gets him to fly out to LA.
  • Wicked Cultured: Chili, Bo, and even somewhat Ray all fit this.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Ray.
  • Wrong Restaurant: The obnoxious, pint-sized prima donna Martin Weir makes a point of ordering whatever he feels like at the moment, regardless of whether it's on the menu or at all appropriate for the restaurant. Then he plucks his incredulous lunch guests' menus out of their hands and does the same for them.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: After their confrontation following Bo's failed attempt to set up Chili for the DEA, Chili is impressed to learn that Bear used to be a stuntman before a career-ending injury, and encourages him to think beyond working as Bo's goon:
    Chili: What are you hanging around a guy like that for anyway, huh? I mean, you were in the movies, you were a stunt-man, right? What's he ever done he can talk about?
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Chili, upon first arriving in Los Angeles in torrential rain and seeing not the Cadillac he ordered as a hire car, but an Oldsmobile Silhouette, which the bus driver describes as "the Cadillac of minivans". Not wanting to walk back to the car hire place in the downpour, he decides to take the minivan anyway.