Review by Gordon Justesen
John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, Danny DeVito, Dennis Farina, Delroy
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 105 Minutes
Release Date: February 22, 2005
gonna set somebody up, and you want it to work, it's
gotta be a surprise. Can you remember that?"
spotted them, huh?"
did you see it work in some movie that you got beat up in?"
To this day, Elmore
Leonard is probably my single favorite novelist of all time. He is to books what
David Mamet is to stage and screen. His tales invent a rhythm of character and
dialogue all its own. Being a fan of Leonard's stories, which usually involve
crime, and a lover of a movies, it wasn't hard at all for someone like me to
appreciate the film adaptation of Get
Shorty, which is easily one of my favorite comedies from the 90s.
Helmed by director
Barry Sonnenfeld, who at the time was taking a huge departure from his Addams
Family movies, the movie is an effortlessly witty and insanely funny black
comedy. With the spirit of Leonard's novel kept in tact, thanks to screenwriter
Scott Frank, the movie packs a remarkable theme that only Leonard could create.
The theme in question is the surprising similarities between the gangster
business and the movie business.
The movie's hero is
Chili Palmer, played by John Travolta in superb form which furthered his
comeback status following Pulp Fiction.
Chili is a tough as nails Miami loan shark, whose boss out of Brooklyn has just
kicked the bucket, and as a result he ends up as a collector for Ray "Bones"
Barboni (Dennis Farina). Bones, a dislikeable presence, already has distaste for
Chili following a tussle over a black leather coat in one of the funniest
opening segments of any movie.
Chili doesn't like
being employed by Bones, and when he's assigned to collect a debt in L.A., he
sees an opportunity to leave the business. He's a real movie buff, and his trail
leads him to Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman), a director of B-level pictures. After
getting acquainted, Chili ponders the idea of producing a movie, and as it turns
out, Harry has a script in his possession that could be what he calls his own "Driving
As it turns out the
script, titled "Mr. Lovejoy", is rumored to have impressed big time movie star
Martin Weir (Danny DeVito). Chili soon falls in cahoots with B-movie actress
Karen Flores (Rene Russo), who was once married to Martin. They meet with the
big time star, who is as self indulged as they come, and pitch the movie offer
This dream project
of Harry's soon gains interference in the form of his investing partner, Bo
Catlett (Delroy Lindo). Bo runs a limousine company but happens to have huge
criminal ties, and is hungry for power in the movie biz. Bo is owed money by
Harry from a failed movie project, and it becomes a bidding war between him and
Chili as to who will produce this latest project.
And if that wasn't
enough for Harry, who can't seem to keep his mouth shut if he wanted to. After
Chili makes mention of Ray Bones, Harry makes the mistake of phoning him in
Miami and asking him to take interest in producing. This is perhaps the one role
in Gene Hackman's resume that will forever stand out. Since we're so used to
seeing him play tough guys with authority, it's a riveting treat witnessing this
serious actor play such a buffoon.
In fact, all of the
performances are purely outstanding, with Travolta in high form. However, the
stealer of the movie has to be Dennis Farina, who gives probably one of the
funniest performances you'll ever see. The lines of dialogue that he delivers
are so priceless in timing. I wish I could quote some of them, but they contain
words I probably shouldn't use. Let's just say that, for me, the phrase, "F----
YOU, F--- BALL!" will resonate as one of the funniest lines in the history of
With its sneering
spoof of the Hollywood scene, Get Shorty
is truly the funniest film about the movie business, as well as one of the best
film transformations of any of Elmore Leonard's novels. It holds up wonderfully
ten years down the road.
MGM has delivered
an outstanding job with the transfer of this movie. Having already been released
to DVD in the early stages of the format, the studio applied a new
high-definition transfer, and the result is nothing short of phenomenal. The
anamorphic picture is as crisp and clear as one could ask for. Barry Sonnenfeld,
who at one point was the cinematographer for the Coen Brothers, specializes in
big stylized shots, and that technique pays off extremely well. Colors are a
marvel, as well. Sure enough to qualify for one of the best re-issues of the
The 5.1 mix serves
the black comedy magnificently well. It's a movie more of dialogue than anything
else, but there are many scenes where various set pieces allow for some terrific
dynamic range amongst the speakers. John Lurie's jazzy score to the film plays
off in remarkable form. And spoken words, of course, sound extremely good.
MGM is off to quite
an amazing year already, with this release and their recent 2-disc release of Raging
Bull. The package itself is one of the best looking ones I've seen in some
Disc 1 includes a
commentary track with director Barry Sonnenfeld.
Disc 2 includes
three brand new featurettes; "Get
Shorty: Look at Me", "Get
Shorty: Wiseguys and Dolls" and "The Graveyard Scene".
Also featured are the Deleted Graveyard Scene, Outtake, as well as a Party Reel,
a Bravo page-to-screen special, a sneak peak at Be Cool,
the upcoming follow up to Get Shorty, a trailer and bonus previews.