"Be Cool" is getting short shrift from critics in early reviews, but it doesn't look like there will be much absolution for director F. Gary Gray and his cast.
"Be Cool" is the belated sequel to "Get Shorty", a dark, offbeat satire of the movie business that debuted in 1995. Both are based on Elmore Leonard novels.
Early reviews have not been flattering.
Kirk Honeycutt of Hollywood Reporter.com was the most charitable, writing "'Be Cool' is not really cool as 'Get Shorty' was, but it's entertaining, a frivolous cocktail rather than a vintage wine.
Emanuel Levy gave "Be Cool" a C-, later downgraded to a D, saying "it’s one of the weakest sequels in recent memory" and "All too generously, Gray gave each actor one take of a scene to do whatever they wanted to do or improvise. The result is a messy, episodic, and disjointed film to a fault, with nothing to unify the pieces together."
Dr. Frank Sweitek, one of my favorites, complained that director L. Gary Gray "demonstrates absolutely no affinity for quirky humor and no sense of comic timing. The upshot is that 'Be Cool' is pretty much an unmitigated disaster", but his criticism can be ignored because he didn't know how to spell "Arrowsmith."
Rob Blackwelder of SplicedWire.com, who did know how to spell Aerosmith, agreed with Sweitek's sentiments. "'Be Cool' is the kind of sequel that gives sequels a bad name", wrote Blackwelder, "A bland lifeless, uninspired cash-in with an assembly-line script and a star whose sleepwalking performance isn't even a faint shadow of its original incarnation."
Blackwelder did have something nice to say about The Rock however, writing "It is side-splittingly funny to watching this buffed, 290-lb. half- Samoan warble through Loretta Lynn songs and proudly smack his own rear when catching a glimpse of himself in a mirror -- and he manages to do this, and much more, without becoming a homosexual caricature. As outlandish as he seems, this guy is the most human character in the movie."
That's good news for pro wrestling fans (and editors) who are cheering for The Rock to achieve lasting crossover appeal that might somehow lend credibility to the faux fighting burlesque that spawned him.
The Rock's career started with a bit of a bang when he milked $91 million out of the "Mummy" franchise, which failed to cover production and marketing, but it has gone down from there. "The Rundown" failed to garner $50 million domestically and also didn't cover expenses. "Walking Tall" finished in the same range on a smaller budget, but still failed to cover.
These figures may seem large by historic standards, but for comparison, Matt Damon's two "Bourne" movies took in about $300 million domestically and another $200 million overseas. The "Ocean's" movies, in which Damon got second billing, took in another $300 million domestically and almost $500 million overseas. Against competition like Damon, The Rock could hardly be considered a major draw.
Kirk Honeycutt wrote that "Be Cool" is unlikely to eclipse "Get Shorty", which only drew $72 million, though that number is higher when adjusted for inflation.
Nevertheless, The Rock may have finally made a wise choice as "Be Cool" allowed him to showcase comedic ability that was largely ignored when he was miscast as the strong, silent lead.
Also The Rock can't be blamed for the failures of "Be Cool", though Rolling Stone singled him out for criticism, saying the soundtrack was "dragged down by The Rock's very lame gay-joke version of Loretta Lynn's 'You Ain't Woman Enough.'"
Whether "Be Cool" will help The Rock's acting career remains to be seen. He has signed on for several films based on video games. That isn't a good sign for an actor who hasn't made his mark yet, but along the way The Rock has made so much money that it is impossible to criticize his decision to give up his pro wrestling career for Hollywood.
My friend and I talked about this movie recently, and we both had the same exact response. We both felt that Get Shorty was disappointed and overrated, but we nevertheless very much are interested in this movie.
My friend wants to see it because of his love for music and its use as a central theme in this movie, and me because I'm looking forward to Rock's role. I also am looking for some cool cameo work.
Because of the critical love for Get Shorty, I am not very swayed by the negativity for Be Cool. It kinda makes me want to see the movie more. I may be disappointed, but as a fan of improv, I think that I will be entertained.
Originally posted by Boston Idol"Be Cool" is getting short shrift from critics...Kirk Honeycutt...Emanuel Levy...Dr. Frank Sweitek...Rob Blackwelder
Frank, this movie may indeed be lousy, but who are these guys? I know the guy from the Hollywood Reporter may have a legit rep (only by nature of writing for the HR), but the rest? How does the opinion of these guys effect business? If critics like Roger Ebert, A.O. Scott, Leonard Maltin, Janet Maslin or Elvis Mitchell pan it, I would think that it would have a much larger impact on public perception.
(edited by NickBockwinkelFan on 1.3.05 2249) "Well, you can't involve friendship with business. It has to be one or the other. It's either business or friendship, or hit the bricks!" --Life Lessons from "The Tao of Bobby the Brain Heenan" Uncensored 2000 preview
"As long as the check don't bounce, I guess he's okay with it!" --Former All Pro Giants LB Harry Carson on Bill Parcells joining the hated rival Dallas Cowboys
We'll all read what Ebert thinks on Friday. I went with the reviews that were available. I happen to respect Sweitek more than Ebert, just as I respect you more than published author (that idiot) SKeith.
I'm not saying these guys effect business, but it is not a good sign when the best of the early reviews is a lukewarm endorsement from Hollywood Reporter.
And heck, "Be Cool" could suck and rake in millions. "Meet the Fockers" was generally panned by critics, including many big names, and it still drew well.
Meet the Parents was released in October 2000 and grossed $166 million domestically. Universal released Meet the Fockers later in the year, capturing the Christmas audience and the film (which is STILL in many cinemas) has grossed $275 million...and counting.
Get Shorty was released in October 1995 and grossed $72 million domestically. Be Cool is being released in the early Spring, where there are very few films expected to draw well. Be Cool's getting released on 3000 screens. Get Shorty did 1612. At a per-screen average comparable to Get Shorty's $7800 per, we're looking at a gate of $23 million for the opening weekend. Not bad. It's opening against The Pacifier (which looks terrible by all accounts), so it has a good chance at opening at #1.
I read the original book Be Cool is based off of (titled.. um, "Be Cool") and it was really a fun read. Sort of straddled the line between being silly and serious, sold the music industry as being a pit of vipers, and worked pretty well.
Judging from the trailers, though, most of the characters are nothing like they were in the book, and there's no way the plot could even be similar judging from the changes made. It could work on its own merits or it could just be a hodgepodge of random stuff that they felt might sell better to an audience... guess we'll see.
But even in a hodgepodge one character/actor can stand out, and it sounds like that's what Rock did. Good for him.
The Rock did a great job in Be Cool, its his finest role yet, mainly because he played against time in a rather interesting way. His character is a little over the time, and he is a homosexual, but what makes it kind of brilliant is that its THE ROCK doing it. He put on a good show.
The movie overall was pretty entertaining, I'd say about on par with the original. Its basically the same story and character types just with a different packaging. But for the most part it worked I think.