‘Be Cool’ Is the Best Bad Movie You Can Watch Over the Holidays
I’ve never done acid, but I have seen this nonsensical 2005 piece of ridiculousness — and I’d do it again
Somehow, 15 years ago, a sequel to Get Shorty got made. Like Get Shorty, it was based on an Elmore Leonard book of the same name, starring the same character — so it’s not like it got dreamed up by some coke-addled film executive. But on paper alone, you knew you were in for something weird. Directed by F. Gary Gray (!) and starring John Travolta reprising his role as mobster Chili Palmer, it also featured — this one’s gonna need a deep breath — Uma Thurman cashing a check between Kill Bill movies, The Rock playing a gay bodyguard with a mini afro and a goatee, Cedric The Entertainer as some sort of Suge Knight with Andre 3000 as his dimwitted tea-sipping nephew, Christina Milian as an R&B megastar akin to the next Beyoncé, and goddamn Steven Tyler somehow managing to poorly play Steven Tyler. I’m not going to try to convince you that it’s any better than its 30% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Because it isn’t. But somewhere inside it is trapped a wildly entertaining movie. And, like, most things in life, the movie’s badness is mostly White people’s fault.
It’s no mystery why teenage me, deep into hip-hop and wrestling, would go see Be Cool. The movie had The Rock and Andre 3000; it had me at hello. I hadn’t ever seen Get Shorty, but I didn’t care. Three Stacks was half of my favorite rap group, and was knocking on Hollywood’s door. (He’d just starred in John Singleton’s Four Brothers, and was on his way to starring alongside Will Ferrell in Semi-Pro.) The Rock was, well, The Rock. He was on a very slow road to being the king of Hollywood, having starred in The Scorpion King, a major success as part of the Mummy franchise. However, he was looking for his own franchise. And somewhere along the line, he agreed to Be Cool.
Whenever White folks are on the screen, I just spend my time waiting for another Black person to show up; it’s like it’s the first day of grad school…