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Get Shorty: Special Edition

Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
Film: A
Video/Audio/Extras: B+/B+/A

Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Written by: Scott Frank
Based on the book by: Elmore Leonard
Produced by: Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher
Starring: John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, Delroy Lindo, Danny DeVito, James Gandolfini, Dennis Farina
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it!

John Travolta is a very interesting celebrity. He became a big star after starring in Saturday Night Fever playing a man who loves to dance and then followed that success with the musical Grease. His career went completely downhill after that, but he returned to celebrity status after playing a criminal in Quentin Tarantino's brilliant Pulp Fiction and his next big film role also had him playing a criminal in Get Shorty. He began to lose his A-list status again and now has more Razzie nominations than he does Oscar nods (for those of you wondering, he got Oscar nominations for Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction). Maybe when Travolta plays a dancing hitman, he will become big again, but now Ernest Borgnine is doing better than he is. For now, we have his amazing performance in Barry Sonnenfed's Get Shorty.

Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is a hitman who is asked to collect a debt from a Hollywood producer named Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman). When he starts to enjoy the film business, Chili stays in California and decides to become a film producer. His first script is called "Mr. Lovejoy" and everybody wants a piece of it, including one of Zimm's backers (Delroy Lindo). Chili's smooth-talking words and incredible punching skills are able to get him out of any mess and already he has plans to get the biggest actor in town on the project, Martin Weir (Danny DeVito).

I am a huge fan of films that take a look at a different side of making films and plays. Some of my favourites include The Producers and Ed Wood and Get Shorty is a great addition to the list. Scott Frank's screenplay is absolutely terrific and I hope to see his other Elmore Leonard adaption, Out of Sight very soon. John Travolta gives his best performance as Chili Palmer and Gene Hackman is especially brilliant playing Harry Zimm. Both are great pieces of acting that were sadly snubbed come Oscar time. Originally, Danny DeVito was going to play Chili, but watching Travolta we don't understand how, but DeVito's performance as big-shot actor Martin Weir is especially great and will make you grateful for Matilda. For those who don't know, his directing duties were the reason for him taking the small part in Get Shorty. It's all explained on this excellent DVD that features rather good video and audio.

All the visual extras appear on the second disc of this set, but there is an audio commentary from director Barry Sonnenfeld on Disc One. This is one of the best commentaries I have ever heard. Sonnenfeld provides an interesting discussion on the making of the film and he gives some fun anecdotes on many scenes. This is worth your time. The first two special features on Disc Two concentrate on the characters of the film and are absolutely fun looks at each individual. The actors give information on the reasons for taking the roles and other such information. "The Graveyard Scene" is a featurette on a scene that was deleted from the film and then we are shown the scene which is actually very funny. In it, Ben Stiller gives a funny performance as a director with a giant ego. I especially liked Gene Hackman complaining about his directing style. It's a great scene, but understandable why it was taken out.

"Going Again" talks with Sonnenfeld and DeVito about the scenes that he worked in. It's not bad, but it's too short to give much information. A blooper reel is provided next and shows the usual giggles and hijinks that appear on set. A Sneak Peek of the film's sequel, Be Cool is the next extra and is pretty much a promotional look at that critically panned film. "Page to Screen of Get Shorty" is a wonderful episode of that television show. It provides a lot of information on writing the script and how Sonnenfeld and DeVito got involved with it. This is a brilliant show and I have no idea why this very informative programme got cancelled. A photo gallery and the film's theatrical trailer are shown next, followed by advertisements for The Pink Panther Collection, Be Cool and "MGM Mean Great Movies."

Even though, this DVD was obviously made by MGM to promote the sequel, they have done a wonderful job with this set. The special features are fantastic and film's quality is really good. People who are fans of Travolta, films about filmmaking and gangster movies have to buy this two-disc set.

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