Based on Elmore Leonard’s 1999 novel about mobsters and music stars, Be Cool is like two sequels in one. Ostensibly, it’s the follow-up to 1995’s Get Shorty. But it also marks the on-screen reunion of John Travolta and his Pulp Fiction costar Uma Thurman. And once again they take to the dance floor. ”It doesn’t have that same kind of heroined-out feeling,” Travolta laughs about their rug cutting. ”We’re healthier characters. Those people wanted to die, and these people want to live.”
The star reprises his role as jaunty Mafia thug-cum-movie producer Chili Palmer, who teams with Thurman’s widow/record exec to break a music sensation (Love Don’t Cost a Thing’s singer-actress Christina Milian). Along the way, they encounter sundry stars and scoundrels — played by Vince Vaughn, Cedric the Entertainer, The Rock, Aerosmith, Andre 3000, and Harvey Keitel (another Pulp vet). ”Most of my actors could be leads in their own movies,” says director F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job). ”And here they’re playing the second, third, fourth, and fifth characters!” Next he’ll tell us Tom Cruise was an extra.