Be Cool is the most ironically named movie since What’s the Worst That Could Happen? Crass commercialism rarely exhibits any sign of the finesse, reserve, or hip theatricality inherent to modern definitions of cool. This flop is no exception.
In stirring attempts to extend their acting chops, The Rock plays a very fey openly homosexual man, Andre 3000 channels 50 Cent, Christina Milian is a sultry up-and-coming R&B star, Danny DeVito is a short, aging actor, Steven Tyler plays Steven Tyler, and John Travolta pretends that he does not increasingly resemble Steven Segal.
Be Cool, the lackluster sequel to Get Shorty—both based on titular novels written by Elmore Leonard—orbits around the galaxy of popular stars clustered by production company MGM. It would seem that they have strategically selected a performer to appeal to the broadest range of audiences. For every racial and social minority—aging rockers, young R&B and rap fans, ’70s movie fans, gay men, WWF fans/closeted gay men—there are a few good men towards whom they can gravitate.
Director F. Gary Grey clearly developed The Rock’s characterization of Be Cool’s only homosexual as so flamboyant, he makes Elton John look like Ronald Reagan. Vince Vaughn outdoes Jamie Kennedy’s Malibu’s Most Wanted caricature as a confused Jewish hip-hopper who thinks he’s black. Thurman is a strong female executive, but still melts immediately into the hands of a strong masculine presence; her characters have had more integrity when overdosing on cocaine. This collective clamoring to be over-the-top suggests that perhaps the performers were somehow under pressure to be the most noticed and outshine the rest of the cast. (SAW)
BRIDE AND PREJUDICE
In Bride and Prejudice, Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) proves her directorial versatility by offering up a classic tale from Western culture, but tinting it with a distinctly Eastern lens. As the title suggests, the movie is an adaptation of the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice, but instead of taking place in 18th century England, the camera takes us through modern-day India, London, and Los Angeles.
The story centers on the tempestuous love/hate relationship between American Will Darcy and Indian Lalita Bakshi. The storyline should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Jane Austen, or any standard boy-meets-girl Hollywood romance, really; what makes this film so enjoyable is its marriage of Eastern style and Western content (especially fun to see when the setting moves to Los Angeles) and the way this relationship parallels the one between Lalita and Darcy. (SNJ)
Keanu Reeves, who plays the title role in the new action/fantasy movie Constantine, is accustomed to accusations of a messianic complex. Reeves, after having played Neo in The Matrix, returns with a new name but suspiciously similar storyline and character: laconic loner John Constantine fights an epic battle of good-versus-evil while brooding at the fringe of American urban society.
Since childhood, Constantine has been able to recognize the ghoulish “half-breeds,” who, as hybrid demon-human creatures, can cross the border between heaven and hell and upset “the balance” between God and Satan’s bid for human souls. Young Constantine’s terrifying visions classify him as a psycho. As a result of the trauma of his visions and equally horrific “therapy,” he commits suicide.
This mortal sin condemns him to hell, but he manages to survive and returns to earth. Though he’s been given a second chance at life, he can’t seem to ditch his self-destructive bent, courting danger as a freelance demon-hunter and smoking himself to lung cancer. Now, facing death a second time, he agrees to help the lovely but pushy detective Angie (Rachel Weisz) unravel her sister’s suicide.
Some plot points are never adequately explained: how did Constantine return from hell the first time? When and how did Satan have a son? Characters’ motivations are equally murky—Gabriel, for example, comes off as part saint, part sadist, and we’re left guessing whether the archangel cares about humanity at all.