Sunday, February 22, 2015

Get Shorty

Movie Name: Get Shorty
Year of Release: 1995
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Stars: John Travolta, Rene Russo, Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, Dennis Farina, Delroy Lindo, James Gandolfini, Jon Gries, Bette Midler, David Paymer, Martin Ferrero, Miguel Sandoval
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8

The success of the "Adams Family" films allowed director Barry Sonnenfeld to move on to more ambitious projects, such as "Get Shorty", an adaptation of the Elmore Leonard book. The film follows the story of Chili Palmer, a mobster working out of Florida, who has to go to Hollywood to collect a debt. Chili, who is a big movie buff, finds himself tangled up in the movie business, which ends up being eerily similar to the mobster underground that he's so familiar with. He befriends Harry Zimm, a film director who is himself struggling to get his films done, and gets romantically involved with Karen Flores, a B-movie actress with a good heart. Into this network of contacts comes Bo Catlett, a criminal who is also interested in the movie business. It's up to Chili Palmer to navigate these murky waters, which also include big ego actors such as Martin Weir, and venture out into this new business.
Barry Sonnenfeld has made a career of directing comedies with high concepts and traditionally with very high profile casts. That has been the case with "Adams Family", "Men in Black" and "Big Trouble". "Get Shorty" is, thus far, his best film, thanks in much to a crackling screenplay by Scott Frank, which brims with intelligence, wit and a very self reverential and satiric nod to the movie making business. He also benefits from one fantastic cast, where John Travolta exudes confidence and menace, while retaining his suave and calm demeanor. "Get Shorty" was released immediately after Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" and further cemented the actor's comeback (something that has since gone nowhere). The supporting cast, including Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, Danny DeVito, Dennis Farina, Delroy Lindo and James Gandolfini is equally superb, colorful and diversified, allowing for the story to be truly brought to life in a dynamic and hilarious way. This is a comedy where everything flows perfectly, from the casting through the cinematography and the impeccable soundtrack (from John Lurie). A great comedy worth watching!