An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


            There ought to be rules.  The first of these would limit the number of major characters in a movie. You just canít ask an audience to get on intimate terms with a gaggle of people in less than two hours.  Itís one thing if you landscape the film with soldiers, a royal ball, or a football team; itís quite another to ask us to track an assortment of individuals we donít care about. 

            Take, for instance, ďBe Cool, ď a mediocre take-off on the Hollywood music business.   Chili Palmer (John Travolta), casting about for a new venture, finds Linda Moon (Christina Milian) in a night club, spots her potential, becomes her manager and saves her from the goons she is with.  He also hooks up with Edie (Uma Thurman), a newly widowed record producer, to put his new protťgť on the map.   A thin plot needs lots of help, so we are subjected to a parade of silly, often embarrassing characters whose names we seldom catch and whose faces we want to forget.  

            Raji (Vince Vaughn) is the first gangster-manager of Linda Moon.  Whenever we see Raji he is covered with blood, has blackened eyes, and talks in a mix of rage and tears.  He is a bully. 

            Cedric the Entertainer plays Sin LaSalle, a big boss type who is on screen whenever someone gets dangled over the side of the building or gets beaten up.  Sin hangs out with a posse of ludicrous gunslingers, gathered for the purposes of intimidation.  Harvey Keitel and Danny DeVito are simply wasted.  The worst part of this is that the movie sees itself as a comic send-up.  It is not funny.

            There are some good points, though not enough to bring you to the theater.  Uma Thurman, for example, is terrific as Edie.  She roars through a completely appropriate wardrobe with panache, especially in the black t-shirt with WIDOW emblazoned across her chest in white letters.  Thurman looks great and has mastered a cheeky attitude that springs perfectly from Edieís cheesy roots.  Christina Milian has success written all over her, making Linda Moon a believable musical triumph for her screen managers.  The production numbers in the concert hall and the basketball arena, carry the collective whomp of big crowd excitement. 

John Travolta uses his practiced calm to establish the image he wants, but something is missing.  The cigarette dangles from his lip, his all-black clothes make the point that this cool guy is a master of his silly underworld; He talks the cool talk, but his style is diluted.  His earlier self glided through life while his eyes told us, even though he is too modest to tell us himself, that he has something the rest of us donít have:  an especial grace.  Best of all his eyes told us he knows it, and he knows we know it, and he does this for our particular pleasure.  Thatís whatís missing in ďBe Cool.Ē


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