For some inexplicable reason I hold a massive amount of nostalgia towards Get Shorty, despite only ever seeing it onc, somewhere around 1998 on VHS, and to the best of my recollection it was just an average funny movie to me, there was nothing special about it otherwise. I could hardly even remember anything concrete about the plot before I saw it again. The only clear memory I had was of a very mundane scene just before Gene Hackman’s character meets Travolta’s Chili for the first time, when Hackman was walking down the stairs in his robe (why do I remember this so vividly? I have no idea). So it’s peculiar for me to feel so strongly about the movie as I do, there doesn’t seem to be any clear reason for it. All this in mind, I just knew this was going to somehow disappoint me.
Undeterred by my personal reservations and confused approach to the movie, overall I found that Get Shorty, based on a book by Elmore Leonard, does ultimately prove to be a very delightful little crime flick and features many of the familiar elements that make Leonard’s stories so wonderfully fun to watch on the big screen: colorful characters put to life in swanky costumes, charming deadpan black comedy and unexpected plot twists. The casting was very pleasant surprise because I love being surprised by discovering familiar faces, who meant nothing to me when I last saw the movie all those years ago, in random roles that did nit get top billing. It’s exciting to discover another part of someone’s filmography from a live movie rather than reading it from IMDB. Besides the obvious big names like Hackman and Travolta, the roster features several (B-list) actors that I have grown very fond of, such as magnificent Dennis Farina and Miguel Sandoval. The one that grabbed me the most was the actor playing Bear, the muscle for Delroy Lindo: it was none orher than a very young, thin(er) and hairier looking James Gandolfini! I almost didn’t recognize him at first, he looked so different. Talking of actors, here’s a nice bit of superfluous trivia: the movie technically has a bit of a in-world continuity problem with its sequel, because in Get Shorty Harvey Keitel appears as himself in a brief cameo role at the very end of the movie but in Be Cool Keitel is playing one of the main antagonist roles of the story, a crooked music producer.
The story does have few downsides though. For one thing, the ending is a bit colorless and flat. The “big” confrontation between the limo service crooks and Chili is pretty anti-climactic, albeit it does have a good twist at the end. And while all the plot lines do converge and tie together neatly, it is perhaps a bit too conveniently. The structure of the story was also perhaps a bit too jumbled and not as clear as it could have been. I would have also preferred to see more Hollywood satire. Be Cool for example felt like it did a lot more with the music business, than what we saw of the movie producing side. But not everything can be perfect, I suppose. Besides, despite these mentioned flaws, it is still a fun little movie.