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“Ah, sequels,” one Chili Palmer laments while driving his Cadillac past a billboard advertising the latest big-budget, star-studded flop to come out of Hollywood. “It’s the only time in my life I ever gave in.” If it weren’t for The Italian Job II, director F. Gary Gray might have someday said the same thing about Be Cool, his misguided mobster-cum-movie-producer-cum-music-bizzer sequel to Barry Sonnenfeld’s 1995 comedy, Get Shorty. Tired of the film industry, tough guy Chili (John Travolta) finds an immediate opening in a new line of work after his independent-record-label-owning friend (James Woods) gets whacked by the Russian mob. Soon enough, Chili gets cozy with his dead pal’s former girlfriend/business partner (Uma Thurman) and just happens to run into a Beyoncé-in-waiting, Linda Moon (real-life R&B singer Christina Milian). Other than looking on like proud parents as Linda goes from second-rate nightclub singer to superstar in just under two hours, however, Travolta and Thurman don’t actually add much to the film’s predictable proceedings—unless you count their game vamping through an uncomfortably familiar dance scene. At least the rest of the cast makes an effort: As Raji, the jive-talkin’, lean-walkin’ two-bit manager who thinks he’s black, Vince Vaughn proves once again that he saves his best work for supporting roles in cameo-laden comedies. And even among relatively strong performances by Cedric the Entertainer, Harvey Keitel, and former pro wrestler the Rock, OutKast’s André 3000 manages to stand out as Dabu, a twitchy, trigger-happy gangsta rapper. Sadly, the only other surprise Be Cool has to offer is that Chili’s tired tough-guy act still seems to work: He uses that “Look at me” line with every single person he meets, and if he just walks up and punches someone in the nose one more time, he’s gonna get himself shot. But that’s the sequel game for you. One more flop like this and it might be time for Gray to choose another profession, too. —Matthew Borlik