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Ghost Canyon

'Be Cool'
(John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, Cedric The Entertainer, Andre Benjamin, et al / Blu ray / PG-13 / (2004) 2011 / MGM)

Overview: Starring an unbelievably hip all-star cast, including John Travolta, Uma Thurman, André 3000, Steven Tyler and The Rock, and bursting with the hottest music in the biz, Be Cool is the wildly hilarious tale about a gangster turned music mogul and what it takes to be number one with a bullet.

Blu ray Verdict: You know there's something not quite right with a movie when it boasts actors the calibre of John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, James Woods, and Vince Vaughan ... and yet the most memorable roles are those by ex-wrestler The Rock and singer Andre-3000. Unfortunately, despite its cast, 'Be Cool' ends up being much less than the sum of its parts.

In this sort-of-sequel to 'Get Shorty', we follow Chili Palmer moving out of the movie business and into the music industry. What follows is a convoluted plot involving Russian mobsters, a widowed record company owner, try-hard gangstas, a promising young singer, gay bodyguards, and a Vanilla Ice-like white boy who acts black.

Many people bag the performances of the main cast, especailly Travolta and Thurman. It's true they do phone in their efforts for this movie, but the script doesn't really give them alot of material to work with. In fact, despite all the characters and confusion, the central story is quite simple and not really that interesting. It is mostly the side plots and minor characters, not the central players, that are more entertaining.

The bigger problem with this movie is that, for a comedy, it's not really that funny. It relies very heavily on "irony" and in-jokes that too often fall flat. For example, Aerosmith singer Steve Tyler (in one of the most cringeworthy cameos ever seen) proclaims "I'm not one of those singers who appear in movies!". Geddit??? He's a singer, and he's appearing in a movie, claiming he doesn't appear in movies. Yep, this is the sort of thing you're forced to suffer through in the name of "humour".

However, the interactions between Raji (Vaughan) and his gay Samoan bodyguard and wannabe singer (The Rock) are hilarious. The humour here is much more slapstick and off-the-cuff, particularly The Rock's "monologue" and his music video. Andre-3000 as a tea-drinking gangsta and Robert Pastoerlli as a bumbling hit-man are other highlights. If only they'd put in a bit more of this sort of stuff rather than the heavy-handed pop culture references, this would have been a better film. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.