Get Shorty Barry Sonnenfeld

Get Shorty, one of many films adapted from novelist Elmore Leonard's work, owes its success to a variety of other films, filmmakers and influences, but the final result is still an entertaining, glossy production that's quite a bit of fun. First, Get Shorty would not exist without Quentin Tarantino, who not only revived John Travolta's career (who stars in Shorty) but also brought to the mainstream the kind of sensibility that Leonard has dabbled in for years through his novels. Sure, Pulp Fiction wasn't based on a Leonard book (Jackie Brown was), but the balance of humour and violence, and the cool yet eccentric characters owe a lot to Leonard's work. In its wake, Get Shorty also explores the ultra-cool (but not ultra-violent) life of Chilli Palmer, a wiseguy turned film producer who pitches his own Hollywood adventure (the film we're watching) as it unfolds before us. It's not rocket science, but Travolta does good work while his star was still in its ascendancy, and he's supported by an excellent cast (Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, Danny DeVito). The timing for a two-disc reissue is clearly the arrival of the Get Shorty sequel Be Cool — a sequel Leonard only wrote after Get Shorty was a big screen success. Otherwise, Shorty might have slid into the vaults of quality, timely films that didn't really sustain any interest beyond their momentary entertainment value. Given that, nearly two hours of extras seem a little excessive, especially since they're for the most part fairly perfunctory explorations: polite recollections of how fun it all was, a deleted sequence, outtakes and a "party reel" are all designed to humanise Hollywood players who remain otherwise untouchable. Even to Chilli Palmer. Plus: director's commentary, page to screen featurette. (MGM)