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Be Cool (2005) Print E-mail
Monday, 25 July 2011
Image“Be Cool” is a sequel to “Get Shorty,” arriving a decade after the original.  And while the initial reviews of the film at the time were only so-so, I found the sequel to be surprisingly entertaining.  In fact, I dare say I liked it better than the original.

Sure, there are a lot of downers to the film, but looking at the positive side of those negatives makes the film decent.  Many might say the performances are weak, but I found Thurman’s and Travolta’s performances to be spot on with the tongue and cheek nature of the film.  That being said, coupled with my distaste for all things Vince Vaughn, his performance darn near ruined the entire film.  Sure his character was built as annoying, but Vaughn took annoying to a whole new level.

The sequel trades in the movie business for the music business.  Chili Palmer (Travolta) begins the film with a suitable monologue, expressing his distaste for sequels and the film industry.  The film gets going right away with a drive by shooting, starting the intricate web of lies and entanglements.

Travolta rejoins forces with Uma Thurman, and while they don’t spark on screen quite as well as they did in “Pulp Fiction,” the passion is still present.  The two join together in the film to help produce and launch the career of a female singer, Linda Moon (Christina Milian).  Unfortunately, Linda is under contract with Carosel Entertainment, headed by Harvey Keitel.  Added to the mix are the Russian Mafia, out for Chili’s head as a witness, a suburban-gangster music producer and his posse, who are out to collect the money that RTL Records (run by Thurman) owes them.

The groups play tricks on one another, each one becoming more sophisticated.  Unfortunately, the audience can clearly see where the game is going to end.  Still, the journey is entertaining for what its worth.

Christina Milian lights up the screen, although I am not a fan of the duet between her and Steven Tyler.  The arrangement is all over the place and the voices of the pair do not complement each other.  Other than that, the film is filled with references to the first film and a slew of cameos. Take the film for what it is and you will enjoy it.  It you analyze every little nuisance and compare the film to the original and why it had to be a decade later then you will drive yourself nuts and miss out on the entertainment value.

As a catalog MGM release, the video quality of the Blu-ray is not the best possible.  It finds its way to the disc with a mixed transfer.  Some shots look excellent with plenty of detail and texture.  Then there are other shots that just fall flat with poor fleshtones and overcooked color saturation.  The black levels are not the strongest leading to several detail-absorbing sequences.  The black levels want to be there, they just needed a bit more attention.  The contrast and brightness balance is generally good, but shadow delineation still suffers.  Colors are a bit over-baked in this transfer and fleshtones tend to fluctuate throughout the film.  Film grain is intact and provides some of the texture for the image.  Overall, this is a nice upgrade from the DVD, but it certainly could look better.

In terms of audio quality, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track is passable, but hardly engaging.  Sure, the original sound design is fairly reserved, but the track still lacks a presence.  The surround channels are virtually empty throughout the film, removing all possibility of envelopment or immersion.  The music sequences give some punch to the track, but ultimately those sequences fail to impressive.  The LFE channel is absent throughout.  The dynamic range is minimal but accurate for the film.  Dialogue is centered and intelligent throughout.  Still, the dialogue lacks a weight and a true presence.  The stereo width of the front channels is not the best I have heard for a film of this genre and age, but it is passable.  That is what this audio track comes down to, passable.

“Be Cool” comes to Blu-ray with the original DVD special features and remain in standard definition.  “Be Cool, Very Cool: The Making Of” is a typical piece filled with cast comments about the characters.  There are 14 deleted scenes, a few of which might cause a laugh.  “Close-Ups” is a section containing five featurettes highlighting different characters from the film.  The Blu-ray also includes a gag reel, music video and theatrical trailer.

“Be Cool” is not going to win a lot of film fans over, but I found it to be entertaining.  The runtime seems long for so the so-so plot, but it actually moves along at a good pace.  The audio and video transfers of this catalog release are not the best but are a decent upgrade from the standard DVD.  I recommend at least giving this one a rent.

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