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Saturday, October 13, 2018

GET SHORTY: COLLECTOR'S EDITION -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

I haven't seen any of his more recent movies, but there was a time when John Travolta could play "Mr. Cool" better than just about anybody. That time spanned at least from GREASE to PULP FICTION, and it most definitely includes the making of Barry Sonnenfeld's 1995 Elmore Leonard adaptation GET SHORTY: COLLECTOR'S EDITION (Shout! Factory).

Travolta plays "Chili" Palmer, a Miami loanshark who loves movies and ends up getting involved in the business when he goes to Hollywood to help a Las Vegas casino owner collect on a delinquent debt.  The delinquent in question is B-movie mogul Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman), who sidesteps the debt by offering Chili a chance to co-produce his upcoming dream project.  Tired of the loansharking business, this offer is right up the fanatical film buff's alley.

Trouble is, Harry has other debtors wanting a big chunk of his future movie profits, including tough-guy enterpreneur Bo Catlett (Delroy Lindo) and his strong-arm thugs Ronnie (Jon Gries) and Bear (James Gandolfini in a decidedly non-"Sopranos"-type role).  When Chili's murderous mob nemesis from Miami, Ray "Bones" Barboni (Dennis Farina), shows up to settle old scores and runs afoul of both Harry and Chili, things get wonderfully complicated.

GET SHORTY isn't really all that complicated, but the constant twists and turns of this Hollywood crime comedy make keeping up with it a giddy delight from start to finish.  Fans of both gangster pictures and self-referential satires on Tinsel Town should thoroughly enjoy watching Travolta's cool-as-a-cucumber protagonist--he isn't really a bad guy even though he worked for the mob--push people and situations to the edge and come out on top every time.

There's the delightful subplot about the weaselly dry cleaner named Leo (David Paymer) who collected his own life insurance after everyone thought he died in a plane crash and then skipped off to Vegas with the money (he's the one Chili was originally sent by Ray Bones to track down).  And I love the way Hackman's Zimm clumsily steps all over Chili's efforts to handle things for him and then tries to play tough with Ray, which ends really badly for him.

Travolta looks like he just stepped out of GQ magazine the whole time and totally sells the character like nobody else could.  He's tough and shrewd, but his love for movies is endearingly childlike (there's a great scene of him excitedly watching TOUCH OF EVIL in a dark theater and reciting all the dialogue himself) and he only gets violent in self-defense or to prove a point.

Hackman is a hoot as Zimm, the typical junk filmmaker aspiring to make his one great movie but forever getting in trouble trying to finance it.  As his actress girlfriend Karen who's tired of being in cheap horror films, Rene Russo proves she can keep up with the guys just as she did in LETHAL WEAPON 4.  Danny DeVito is a scream as her ex-husband Martin Weir, now a superstar actor with a colossal ego whom Chili and Harry covet as their lead.

The film itself reflects Chili's sense of savoir faire with a cool score (consisting mainly of Booker T. & the MGs songs) and a slick, easygoing visual style.  The story is richly satirical and filled with scintillating dialogue and situations that evoke a sense of giddiness at times, it's just so right on the money.

The Blu-ray from Shout! Factory looks and sounds great, remastered from a new 4K transfer. The fully-stocked bonus menu includes:

Audio Commentary with Director Barry Sonnenfeld
Featurettes: "Get Shorty - Look at Me," " Get Shorty - Wise Guys + Dolls," "Going Again"
Get Shorty Party Reel
Page to Screen of Get Shorty
The Graveyard Scene
Reversible Box Art 

There's action, suspense, and some violence at times, but it's all in service of the overall good vibes the film radiates.  The delightufully unexpected ending alone is worth the price of admission.  And once you've seen it, you'll know just what I mean when I say that GET SHORTY is truly "the Cadillac of minivans." 

Buy it from Shout! Factory


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