GET SHORTY (1995) 

[Get the Poster]

John Travolta
Rene Russo
Gene Hackman
Danny DeVito
Dennis Farina
Delroy Lindo
David Paymer
James Gandolfini
Bette Midler
Jon Gries
Renee Props

Barry Sonnenfeld



Original Novel

Time: 105 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Comedy/Romance/Crime

With a wonderful cast and a brilliant script GET SHORTY is one of the best comedies to come out of Hollywood in a long time. The fact that it's about Hollywood makes the shenanigans even more delicious. Adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel, GET SHORTY is the tale of a shylock (money-collector) for the mob with a passion for the movies. When a debtor skips town and winds up in Los Angeles, the shylock follows and soon becomes embroiled, much to his delight, in the production of a major motion picture. However, he quickly finds out making movies is harder and sometimes more dangerous than he thought. The film winds it's way through the preproduction process as everyone and their brother tries to get in on the action. Leonard is a master at creating unique and memorable characters and the cast sinks their teeth into their roles with comic abandon. Travolta, in his second best role of the 90s, plays Chili Palmer, the fairminded shylock with a head for casting and a love for cinema. Chili defines cool. He isn't afraid of anyone.

Sometimes he has to be violent, but only when there's no other option and mainly to let his enemy know he's not a man who will be pushed around. He sticks by his convictions, doing what's right regardless of the outcome. The only time Chili lets his guard down is when he's talking about movies. He'd do anything to be involved in the magical process of filmmaking. Chili is the heart and soul of GET SHORTY. Travolta makes you fall in love with him and his dreams. It's his unbridled enthusiasm that drives the film. It's a pitch perfect performance. How ironic that his two best performances in recent years have been as hit men. Chili Palmer is Vincent Vega with class and a more hopeful outlook on life. Once in Los Angeles, Chili hooks up with your typical Hollywood types – beautiful starlet, egocentric megastar, schlocky producer and crooked moneylenders – all magnificently played by Russo, Hackman, DeVito and Lindo. Everybody hits their mark, taking these somewhat by the book characters to a whole different level. If the cast wasn't as talented or the script as good, these people would be flat and familiar characters. Thankfully, that doesn't happen.

"I once asked this literary agent what writing paid the best, and he said, 'ransom notes.'"

Even Russo, who has the most thankless role, manages to give it extra pizazz, keeping her from being just a lovely accessory. Each character has an essential role to play, mainly because they all believe the world revolves around them. Hackman is hysterical as Harry Zimm, the producer who's looking for the one film that will finally get him on the "A List". He enlists help from anybody and everybody, whatever it takes to win him an Oscar. Insulated from the real world, he has no concept of the danger he's actually in. Craziness ensues when the moneylenders, who lent Harry cash to finance his latest film, need the money back in a hurry. Their boss, a South American drug czar, is in town looking for his money and his nephew, who was sent to collect it, but is now missing. The czar's money is in a locker at the airport, but no one wants to pick it up for fear of getting arrested by the D.E.A. Since the moneylender knows Chili collected $300,000 from the debtor who skipped town, he decides to take Chili's money anyway they can.

Of course, Chili is no sucker and he's not about to be taken advantage of by some low level thug. With that said, Chili manages to stay one step ahead of everyone, save the money, win the girl and get his movie idea produced. It's the perfect Hollywood dream come true. It's an amazing thing when a movie actually comes together in a seamless and perfect fashion. A rare treat these days, when films are rushed to the screen to make a date before the script is truly ready. Though I find Elmore Leonard to be a fluffy read, his stories make for wonderful movies – fresh, inventive, character pieces that in the right hands make for first class comic adventures. Sonnenfeld uses a light touch to bring this outrageous tale to life. Though filled with quirky personalities and outrageous situations, the players are both honest and earnest in their endeavors to succeed. More about movies than the mob, GET SHORTY is one of the most clever and biting send-ups of filmmaking to make it to the screen. It's intelligent, dark and wickedly funny. A movie I enjoy watching over and over again.

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