'Be Cool' is a lifeless husk of an Elmore Leonard story. Barry Sonnenfeld got it right in 'Get Shorty'. He brought the sly, shylock Chili Palmer to life. F. Gary Gray (and screenwriter Peter Steinfeld) chewed him up and spit him out like a wad of used gum. It's sad really. There's no denying that 'Be Cool' strays so far away from Leonard's novel that it borders on the ludicrous, but that wouldn't be so bad if it was a good movie.
There's an interview where Leonard is talking about the show 'Justified' and how it's based on his short story. The conversation quickly turns to 'Get Shorty' and then briefly to 'Be Cool'. Leonard said about the movie, "I told Barry Sonnenfeld, ‘When somebody delivers a funny line, don’t cut to someone else laughing or nudging or grinning, because they’re all serious, and he knew that. But then when they shot the sequel, they forgot all about that, and everybody’s laughing all the way through. There’s a guy named Cedric the Entertainer (in the cast). Well, I can’t have a guy named Cedric the Entertainer in one of my stories!" That right there folks is the perfect description of 'Be Cool' the movie given by the man who penned the source material.
There's nothing original or fun about 'Be Cool'. Like Leonard said, the entire movie is laughing right along with itself. All the way through. Characters are changed to make the movie more corny and attractive to Hollywood. Take the character Raji for example. In the book he's not a white man pretending to be black, but you can see what this movie is aiming for when it creates that character and sticks Vince Vaughn in the role. It's insulting.
To further its unoriginal vibe 'Be Cool' even goes so far as to stick John Travolta and Uma Thurman in a dance scene together, because it worked so well in 'Pulp Fiction'. These people apparently haven't seen 'Pulp Fiction'. They have no idea why that scene worked as well as it did. You can't just stick two of the same actors in the same place and hope for lightning to strike twice. They aren't the same characters! I have no idea why that is so hard to understand. Instead their dance number comes off as all kinds of awkward, while everyone watching is rolling their eyes because they know what just happened. This movie thought they would actually get a kick out of seeing those two dance together again. They give you a little wink-wink nudge-nudge and expect you to be happy about it. Blech.
I really loathe 'Be Cool'. It thought it could coast by just because everyone recalled 'Get Shorty' with such admiration. It's too bad they changed the story, changed the characters, and took out everything that was the least bit interesting about Leonard's storytelling. They added in a few stereotyped groups of people, obvious jokes, and a loathsome dance number and hoped you wouldn't notice.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This another, in a long line of Blu-rays, that has been pushed out the MGM door. It comes it a standard Blu-ray keepcase and is pressed on a 50GB Blu-ray Disc. The case indicates a region A only release.
These recent MGM titles have left a lot to be desired. They feel rushed and chaotically thrown together just to get them out the door. Fortunately, 'Be Cool' has the advantage of being filmed not too long ago. This is by far one of the best looking MGM titles that has come out in the past few months.
The bright colors of Los Angeles are present and accounted for here. The varied color combinations of the DubMDs basketball jerseys light up the screen. Facial detail, close up, looks good. Softness creeps into the picture the further out the camera goes though. 'Be Cool' also suffers from uneven grain that transforms into noise every so often. It isn't constant, but there are times that faces will randomly fill with heavy grain for a second or two only to have it disappear in the next shot.
Black levels are strong and nicely contrast with the lighter stuff on screen. If you're a fan of the movie you'll be pleased with this presentation even though it still is a bit rough around the edges.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless track carries about the same weight. 'Be Cool' doesn't call for a log of whiz-bang flashy sound effects. There's a lot of talking, but there's enough action to give the sound system a mild workout.
Most of that action comes in the way of gun shots going off. LFE pounds out the sub woofer as a toupee-wearing Russian blows away James Woods at the beginning of the movie. His arm cannon packs a heavy low-end punch. Linda Moon's poppy vocals fill the sound stage every time she's performing. They echo nicely while the rears pipe in sound from the crowds watching her.
Again I was surprised by 'Be Cool's overall sound, because the stuff that MGM has been putting out lately has looked and sounded like crap.
'Be Cool' doesn't even pass as mindless entertainment. It tried to skate by as a generic fluff piece that completely forgot about the man who wrote it. If Leonard hates it, then so do I. To top it off the Travolta/Thurman dance scene is insulting to movie lovers because the filmmakers here have no clue as to why that scene worked in 'Pulp Fiction' and why it can never be repeated. 'Be Cool' is one to avoid.