Remember those wonderful days in the late seventies and early eighties, when John Travolta ruled the movie marquees of our fair land? Well, yesterday is today, friends, and Travolta has returned to silver screen prominence following his slide in that god-awful series of talking baby and dog movies. Travolta scored big in Tarantino's ode to gangster-philosophers, "Pulp Fiction", and his new movie, "Get Shorty" is sure to send him into the high rent district. In other words, Vinnie Barbarino's back, and Gene Hackman's got him.
"Get Shorty" is the kind of movie that features fast talking characters, all thrown together in humorous and yet slightly uncomfortable situations . Travolta plays Chili Palmer, a Miami loan shark with a love for the movies. When he gets sent out to Hollywood to collect on a debt, Chili winds up pitching an idea for a film to schlock-movie director Harry Zimm, who also happens to owe him money. As played by Gene Hackman, Zimm is a serious low life, down on his luck and into the local mob for a large amount of cash. Chili agrees to help him with his money and gangster problems, and along with scream queen Rene Russo, they struggle to get their picture off the ground.
Oh, and there's plenty more to savor, with a full selection of subplots involving Central American drug dealers, sharkskin suit wearing Italian mafiosos, and of course, all the slimy, superficial Hollywood types anyone could ask for. In other words, "Get Shorty" is a richly plotted, extremely entertaining movie that makes the most of an excellent cast and an intelligent script. Wow! When's the last time you were able to say that about a movie?
Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, Dennis Farina, and Danny DeVito all turn in very strong performances, but the real strength of the movie is in its leading man, John Travolta. He's terrific as the philosophical, movie loving mobster, Chili, and shows some serious star power as he amuses and intimidates everyone around him. Similar to "The Player" only a whole lot more fun, "Get Shorty" goes long on entertainment.
Copyright 1995 John A. Lavin
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