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Get Shorty

Get Shorty

What He said:

He

Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is a loan shark for a NY crime family. His boss Momo (I couldn’t make this name up if I wanted to) is in NY, but Chili is based out of Miami. His boss has some kind of working relationship with a local crime family run by a guy named Jimmy Capp. A guy named “Bones” (played in a most amusing manner by Dennis Farina) works for Jimmy Capp. He and Chili are not the best of friends and when a minor beef between the two heats up, Bones wants his boss to do something about it. Jimmy Capp refuses to go to war with Momo and his family over something so trivial and this infuriates Bones.

However, when Momo suddenly dies, Bones sees this as an opportunity to have some fun. He starts to boss Chili around and even asserts that Chili is now one of his men. Essentially, Bones (or so he claims) owns Chili. He tells Chili to go collect a debt from a guy in Vegas. Chili does it, but apparently has other motives. Vegas leads him to L.A. and that’s where Chili begins to implement his new career plans. He doesn’t want to be a loan shark any more, especially if it means working for Bones. While in L.A., he hooks up with Harry Zim (Gene Hackman) and Karen Flores (Rene Russo). Harry is a director and Karen an actress. Neither his high profile, but they have a love of film nonetheless. After a short time together, the three of them agree to produce this new movie based on Chili’s own experiences.

It turns out Harry has plenty of problems. Besides owing a casino in Vegas money, he also owns a local “businessman” Bo (played by Delroy Lindo) some money. Next thing he knows Bo and his goons – one of which is played by a pre-Sopranos James Gandolfini and the other by Uncle Rico himself – are after him. Additionally, Bones figures out where Chili has been and intends to visit and collect his money.

Oh and Danny Devito is in it too. He plays the super flaky, but critically acclaimed actor Martin Weir. He is Karen’s ex-husband and also the guy Chili wants to play the lead in his movie.

This is a very light, but entertaining crime comedy filled with a lot of genuine performances. Dennis Farina is absolutely hilarious. In a movie that has a lot of subtle, but good performances, he may have been the best. Having said that, it’s hard not to appreciate Gene Hackman’s performance as the likeable loser Harry Zimm and Danny Devito is hilarious as the ego maniac Martin Weir. Delroy Lindo and James Gandolfini were exactly what they needed to be as Chili’s competition. They may be a big fish in their little small pond, but they won’t know what hits em when confronted by a legitimate gangster like Chili. Travolta and Russo were no slouches either. Chili is one cool dude. He’s always got a plan. Even when it goes wrong, his backup plans usually pan out. Karen is also hip lady who can hang with the big boys.

This is really simple, light, and quirky little film. It’s not gut-busting funny, but very amusing. If you’re in the mood for something light, this might be for you.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said  seal of approval on March 23, 2012.  

What he said:

She

Get Shorty is a crime-comedy that offers a lighter take on the mob scene.  It oozes ‘90s, but that’s ok, because it doesn’t take itself too seriously and Travolta was really at his apex during this time.  John Travolta plays Chili Palmer, a loan shark who butts heads with another, and quite dopey, mobster, Ray “Bones” Barboni.  Unfortunately for Chili, he ends up having to work for Bones.  This gives him a respite from the city of Miami, though, as he’s forced to travel to Las Vegas to collect on a debt.  From there, Chili decides to take on another job for a casino owner, which takes him to LA and puts him in contact with Harry Zimm, an off-beat B-movie producer.

Yeah, the storyline is a bit meandering, but once Chili meets Harry and B-movie star Karen Flores, that’s when things get entertaining.  Chili decides to help Harry produce a winning movie, which will allow him to pay off all of his debts.  It’s sort of a charitable act for Chili that has self-serving motivations.  You see, Chili is a huge film buff, and he’s of star struck by having exposure to the industry.  The movie he pitches is also the basic story of his own life, which has certainly been interesting enough to warrant a film.  But Zimm has all kinds of problems.  He owes some bad people money, and so Chili gets caught up in all this. There’s some shooting and rough stuff, and Chili also has to remember to cover his own butt because he’s got Bones on his tale. 

So, it’s complicated.  But as complex as it all sounds, it plays out pretty logically on screen.  The movie has good humor to bridge the gaps as well.  And it pretty much all comes together at the end in a clean way, which is a miracle considering how many branches this film has.  Travolta is smooth as Chili, which isn’t a far stretch from some of his other mobster/cool bad-boy characters.  Gene Hackman plays Zimm, and he pulls off the lovably clueless slob pretty well.  I’m not sure if the B-movie industry really operates the way it’s portrayed in the movie, but it’s funny nonetheless.  Another great character in Get Shorty is acclaimed actor Martin Weir, played by Danny DeVito.  Weir is one of those talents who takes himself too seriously, and yet is revered by the industry, so he’s got an ego that’s off the charts.  I enjoyed the scenes that he was in.

Overall, Get Shorty keeps it light enough to make it successful at what it’s trying to achieve.  It’s not a real mob movie, just a fun quirky story that involved mob themes.  And that will make it accessible to the average Joe or Jane.  It’s not Oscar material, but Get Shorty is still fun.

Thumbs up.