Monday, September 04, 2017

Get Shorty (1995)

I usually know what to make of a movie’s plot.  I may not always like it or completely understand it, but I have some sense of where the writer is coming from.  Get Shorty is an unusual movie in that I’m not entirely sure what it’s supposed to be about.  Is it just a comedy?  Is it some sort of satire?  Is it supposed to be some sort of indictment of the movie industry or an in joke?  What’s the story?

It starts with Chili Palmer in Miami.  He’s a loan shark who works for someone out of New York until he dies.  Suddenly, Chili finds himself working for Ray ‘Bones’ Barboni.  Ray means business.  He wants Chili to collect on a debt owed by a dry cleaner.  Chili points out that the dry cleaner in question is dead.  That’s not Ray’s problem, considering that he had a wife who’s very much alive.

The wife reveals to Chili that her husband is very much alive in Las Vegas  Chili manages to collect the money and pick up a side job in California.  So, Chili travels to Hollywood to meet a producer named Harry Zimm.  Harry has problems of his own.  Chili’s job came from a casino that Harry owes money to.  On top of that, Harry blew $20,000 of his investor’s money.  Chili and Harry become fast friends, but they still have to worry about the investor, Bo Catlett.

Part of my problem may be that the story is a little complicated.  The movie goes from East Coast to West Coast very quickly.  If you blink, you might miss a few important details like I did.  There are also a lot of subplots going on.  Chili has Ray to worry about.  Harry has Bo to worry about.  Bo has a drug dealer named Mr. Escobar to worry about as well as the DEA.  All the while, Chili and Harry want to make their own movie based on the movie’s events so far.  They just have to convince Martin Weir to star in it.  I can’t blame you if you get a little confused by it.

There do seem to be a few jabs at actors and writers.  I’m not sure how much of this I’m supposed to get.  Selling the story within the story allows the characters to comment on the story-making process.  Martin talks of getting inside a character’s head, although he doesn’t seem to be that good at it.  (It’s not that he’s a bad person.  He just seems to lack empathy.)   Since most of us aren’t privy to how a movie is made, I don’t know how much of the conversations went above my head.

I also wonder how much of it is dated.  One of the running gags was Chili getting a minivan from the rental agency and having to make the best of it.  The movie came out when minivans were a big thing.  Now, it’s SUVs.  I’m not sure if the joke would play out the same way.  (I suppose it’s better than a station wagon.)

It’s interesting to hear some dialogue about Miami in the beginning of the movie.  I would like to point out that when Chili mentions Biscayne Boulevard and Federal Highway, he’s actually talking about two different stretches of US-1.  In Miami-Dade County, US-1 is called Biscayne from Downtown north.  When you reach the Broward County line, it becomes Federal Highway.  Just a little bit of trivia there.

I’m not really sure who the movie is going to appeal to.  There is a certain off-beat element to the story.  I remember liking the movie years ago when I first saw it.  I don’t remember how I felt about it specifically.  I just remember a few scenes.  Having watched it again, it was still entertaining.  I’d probably wait a while before watching it again.

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