New Reviews
Django Unchained
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Les Misérables
Chernobyl Diaries
The Cabin in the Woods

Get Shorty (1995)

Attitude plays a part

Directed by:

Barry Sonnenfeld

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 105 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15


With Pulp Fiction out of the way, John Travolta took his first steps toward cashing in on his newly-regained cool with the lead role in this consistently enjoyable crime caper. He ditches the ponytail but keeps the multiple chins to play Chili Palmer, a Miami wiseguy who loves the movies so much that, when the opportunity arises to chase a wad of uncollected debt all the way to Hollywood, he ends up staying there.

Among the marvellous ensemble cast he meets along the way are Gene Hackman as a schlock horror producer who craves one big hit, Rene Russo as his permanently exasperated leading lady, Delroy Lindo as a crooked investor, and James Gandolfini as a stuntman-turned-henchman. Oh yeah, and Danny DeVito also pops up as the one big time little guy they’re all desperate to have appear in their movie.

There’s gambling, guns, and plenty of gangsters, but I won’t go into the plot much more than that, as one of the most enjoyable parts of ‘Get Shorty’ is the way it effortlessly moves from one comic hitch to the next. It’s a film that blows raspberries at the movie industry and does it from the inside: not a complete piss-take (director Barry Sonnenfeld and original novel writer Elmore Leonard know better than to bite the hand that feeds them), but it’s not far off it.

This isn’t a better film than Pulp Fiction, but it is a funnier one, and Travolta again comes up trumps in picking a role he seems tailor-made for. He gets some terrific scenes (including teaching both Hackman and De Vito – on separate occasions – how to master the hard-man stare) and proves himself to be an actor truly at the top of his game. Hackman, with his skill for understated comedy, is also a perfect choice for his role, whilst Dennis Farina puts in an equally memorable shift as Chili’s short-tempered boss. In fact, the only person who looks a tad miscast is Russo, who gets a fair whack of the screen time but never shines, and never seems particularly comfortable with the detailed, dialogue-driven plot.

That aside, ‘Get Shorty’ is one of those great, all-too-rare movies which has an understanding of what it means to be cool, but doesn’t use it as its driving force. It has much more in its canon than simply rubbing its own sense of stylishness in our faces: namely a great cast, strong humour, and entertaining story.

It's Got: A blink-and-you-miss-it cameo from Harvey Keitel. Don’t worry though, Harv-fans – he gets more screen time in the sequel.

It Needs: To tell us which one “Shorty” is. I just can’t figure it out. No, seriously.

DVD Extras This Special Edition version, newly-released in anticipation of the 2005 sequel ‘Be Cool’, includes a string of featurettes (‘Look at Me’, ‘Page to Screen’, ‘Wiseguys and Dolls’, ‘The Graveyard Scene’ and ‘Be Cool, Be Very Cool Sneak Preview’), a deleted scenes, out-takes with Danny De Vito, a stills gallery, and a theatrical trailer. Edition Reviewed: (Released 22nd February 2005) Get Shorty (Special Edition) Amazon UK Get Shorty (Special Edition) Amazon.Com DVD Extras Rating: 7/10


Be Cool, The Player


A great crime caper – that’s the long and the short of it. Well, the short at least.