A gangster is looking to get away from crooked deals and double-crossing people but ends up in the movie business anyway in this comic crime story. Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is a Miami-based loan collector for the mob trying to collect a gambling debt. His assignment takes him to Hollywood to collect money from Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman), a mildly sleazy producer of low-budget horror movies. Although Chili intends to hurt Harry if necessary, he takes a certain liking to him and an even keener interest in Karen (Rene Russo ...
A gangster is looking to get away from crooked deals and double-crossing people but ends up in the movie business anyway in this comic crime story. Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is a Miami-based loan collector for the mob trying to collect a gambling debt. His assignment takes him to Hollywood to collect money from Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman), a mildly sleazy producer of low-budget horror movies. Although Chili intends to hurt Harry if necessary, he takes a certain liking to him and an even keener interest in Karen (Rene Russo), Harry's girlfriend, whom Chili recognizes from Harry's grade-B monster epics. It seems Harry has a script that he feels is Academy Award material, and he could get the project off the ground if he could get the right actor for the lead -- say, the well-respected but egocentric (and diminutive) Martin Weir (Danny DeVito). Chili thinks he has a feel for the movie business and decides to see what he can do to persuade Weir to get behind the project. Chili soon finds himself hip deep in the film industry, which at least puts him in contact with a higher grade of scumbags than he's used to. But Chili isn't the only criminal Harry's been dealing with; he's been obtaining financing from Bo Catlett (Delroy Lindo), a drug dealer with a highly uncertain temperament. An intelligently constructed crime story and a hilarious look at the absurdities of the film business, Get Shorty was based on the novel of the same name by Elmore Leonard; Leonard based Chili on a real-life former gangster of his acquaintance, though Chili's model never worked in Hollywood. Mark Deming, Rovi
I read Elmore Leonard's novel "Get Shorty" (1990) and needed to see the film. It seemed to me that visualization would enhance my appreciation of the book.
The film version of "Get Shorty" dates from 1995 and has become as famous as the novel on which it is based. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld the film features a stunning performance by John Travolta as he gets inside his character, the tough yet sympathetic loan shark and would be film maker, Chili Palmer. Jean Hackman, Danny DeVito, Dennis Farina, Bette Midler, and Rene Russo turn in strong supporting roles.
Most of the film is set in Hollywood with important scenes in Miami and Las Vegas. Chili Palmer is a small-scale but effective loan shark (or "shylock") and a lifelong movie lover. He is sent to Vegas and then Hollywood to get two delinquent debtors to pay. "Look at me", says Chili to his cowed, unfortunate debtors; and he always collects.
The plot of the film becomes tangled with competing sets of bad guys and with various Hollywood types, particularly the director of schlock horror and monster films, a famous, aging, but short in stature actor, and an aging actress who is trying to get back on film. The redoubtable Chili has an idea for a film based upon his own loansharking experience while one of his debtors, the schlocky director, is working on idea to raise him above the level of the junk films on which he has spent his life. Plots and stories become involved, more so in the book than in the film which works to clarify and simplify Leonard's tale. There is a satire of greed, of Hollywood and of the film life. Also, there is a great deal of mirroring between the story in Leonard's novel and the purported films. Life and film are entangled to mirror each other. With a great deal of action, plot twists, and double-crosses, the film also manages to focus on and develop the character of Chili Palmer.
This movie wears its gangsters, violence, and profanity lightly. It is funny more than suspenseful. The visualization of the characters on screen brings something to the story as do scenes in barbershops and restaurants in Miami, the casinos in Vegas, and the studios and hangouts in Hollywood as well as -- the Los Angeles airport. The film's language is snappy and effective and taken from Leonard's words in many instances. The jazzy background music also enhances the film.
"Get Shorty" is an entertaining, absorbing film in its own right, and it helped increase my appreciation of Leonard's book. Leonard's work deserves the many praises it receives, and this film does "Get Shorty" justice.