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Be Cool Reviews

Enervated sequels full of witless in-jokes shouldn't lob stones at enervated sequels full of witless in-jokes, which is exactly what this cutesy continuation of the slickly entertaining GET SHORTY (1995) does. In GET SHORTY, unflappable loan shark Chili Palmer (John Travolta) went to Los Angeles to collect a debt and was seduced by the movie business, whose machinations and high-stakes backstabbing turned out to be not so different from garden-variety thuggery. Now Chili is a bona fide producer, with the hugely successful "Get Leo" and the dreadful, studio-driven sequel "Get Lost" to his credit. The bloom is off the rose and Chili is looking for a new business to conquer, which comes his way via sleazy record-company executive Tommy Athens (James Woods). Tommy wants to pitch a picture about a naive, up-and-coming chanteuse struggling to make it in the music business (GLITTER, anyone?), but he's blown away by Russian mobsters before Chili can blow him off. On an impulse, Chili checks out the fledgling songbird Tommy was pushing for the lead and, to his surprise, is mightily impressed with Linda Moon (R&B singer Christina Milian), whose musicianship and principles are both the legacy of her late jazz-musician father. So Chili decides to hook her up with Tommy's widow, one-time Aerosmith superfan Edie (Uma Thurman) — whose deep dark secret is that she was never a groupie; she just did the laundry — and co-owner of Tommy's label. That Linda is already under contract to faux ghetto-goon Raji (Vince Vaughn) and his boss, all-around tough guy Nick Carr (Harvey Keitel), is, in Chili's mind, a minor bump in the road. The picture teems with stars clearly having a blast playing zany characters — The Rock as Raji's flamboyantly gay, Samoan bodyguard, who really wants to act; Robert Pastorelli as a hit man (in the Murder Inc. sense of the term) and Cedric the Entertainer as Ivy League-educated rap mogul Sin LaSalle; OutKast's Andre 3000 as goofball gangsta Dabu; Danny DeVito reprising the role of self-deluded thespian Martin Weir; and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler as himself. The trouble, as Chili tells Tommy, is that characters and a premise don't add up to a movie. A lot of stuff happens, but the events never coalesce into a plot. Industry gags and character business can't compensate, though the sweet nostalgia of Travolta and Thurman's reprise of their PULP FICTION dance-floor flirtation cuts through a lot of rubbish, including the Black Eyed Peas' smutty "Sexy."