Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is a loan shark, but his heart isn’t in it anymore. His boss hasdied, and the deeply obnoxious Dennis Farina has taken over. Sent to LA to collect on some baddebts, movie buff Chili finds himself right at home in the Hollywood scene, and decides to getinvolved in the business. The other major figures include Gene Hackman as a low-end producer,Rene Russo as the world-weary B actress, and Danny De Vito as the high-profile actor.
The above …ist barely scratches the surface of the characters, however, each one morehilarious than the last, all of them sketched with sharp, amusing little touches. There have beenso many Elmore Leonard adaptations, but very few have captured the right mix of humour andviolence that permeates his books. This is one of those select few.
As befits an Elmore Leonard story, the film is largely dialogue-driven, and the voices areperfectly clear and undistorted, easily the strongest elements of the mix. Though the sound comesin both 5.1 and DTS versions, there is very little difference between the two, and neither is thatdifferent from 2.0, since there is very little surround at all. The music under the opening creditssounds great, however, with a pulsing bass line.
The transfer may be “New High Definition,” but that seems to be about as meaningless as“digitally remastered” when it comes to boasts. The colours are superb, the blacks, deep, and thegrain minimal. However, the image is a bit soft, and the edges are often blurry. Not bad, but farfrom perfect.
Barry Sonnenfeld’s commentary is rich in detail (and points out such nice touches as thecasting of the real Chili Palmer in a bit part), but gets a little dry in its endless list of where andwhen and how each scene was shot. Disc 2 has a clutch of featurettes. “Look at Me” has somegood Leonard interview footage. “Wiseguys and Dolls” goes into the characters, but theinterviews with Russo are from 1995 (where is she now?). There’s a short featurette on thedeleted graveyard scene (with Ben Stiller as a director), and then the scene itself is included.“Going Again” is the most elaborately explained outtake reel I’ve ever seen. There’s also theparty reel, a promotional Be Cool featurette, an episode of Page to Screen on the film(this comes across as an A&E style show, though done for Bravo, and deals with lots of groundalready covered), a still gallery, the theatrical trailer, and some bonus trailers. There are alsosome decent liner notes. The menu’s main screen, intro and transitions are animated and scored,while the second-level screens are scored.
Though the point of this release is obviously to support Be Cool, the new film mightwell suffer as audiences are reminded how to do this sort of thing right.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- “Look at Me” Featurette
- “Wiseguys and Dolls” Featurette
- “The Graveyard Scene” Featurette
- Deleted Graveyard Scene
- “Going Again” Outtakes Featurette
- Party Reel
- Be Cool Featurette
- Still Gallery
- Page-to-Screen Look at Get Shorty