peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2023 07 09 GetShorty

Get Shorty (1995)

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This was John Travolta riding his Pulp Fiction career revival. (I'm guessing it's obvious why nobody talks about his performance in the contemporaneous White Man's Burden.) It's somewhat more of the same but linear and more meta: the Hollywood navel-gazing here involves (even) more wordy referentialism than Tarantino but none of his visual gesturing. Travolta plays a leaf-node Miami Beach mafioso who cannot stand his new underboss Dennis Farina (dumb as planks). The plot sends him to Las Vegas to collect from a dry cleaner and the local outfit forwards him to L.A. There klutzy schlock producer Gene Hackman is having something with characterless Rene Russo who is quick to switch allegiance to the younger, more winning man. The remainder tells us about a move being made and has Travolta pitch the one we're watching.

The raw material was provided by Elmore Leonard, who also wrote the precursor novel of Jackie Brown. Danny DeVito is some major star. Delroy Lindo is as fine as always despite the lame character. I enjoyed James Gandolfini's efforts the most. Harvey Keitel shows up to reinforce that reheated feeling; Bette Midler also wafts through. It's not as clever as it needed to be.

Roger Ebert: three-and-a-half stars. It's all about how they speak, just like a Tarantino. Janet Maslin: she loved Travolta here. DeVito skewers Dustin Hoffman. There's more than a bit of Tarantino cinegeek in Travolta's character.