Every True Movie Buff Should ‘Get Shorty’

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/MGM

MGM is one of Hollywood’s most famous movie studios.  Launched during the golden age of cinema, the studio has released some of the industry’s most iconic titles.  Those movies include, and are not limited to, movies, such as 12 Angry Men, The Manchurian Candidate and Platoon.  It has also released its share of lesser-known, but still enjoyable in their own right flicks in the form of movies, such as The Man From Planet X, The Angry Red Planet  and Get ShortyThe Man From Planet X and The Angry Red Planet both received new Blu-ray re-issues last year courtesy of Shout! Factory.  The latter, ­Get Shorty­ got its own Blu-ray re-issue this past October courtesy of Shout! Factory.  While not one of the most memorable of MGM’s offerings, the 1995 satire of mobster and Hollywood industry flicks is still an entertaining presentation.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story.  This will be discussed shortly.  The cast’s work on camera adds even more interest to its presentation.  The bonus material included in the movie’s latest re-issue rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation.  All things considered, the noted items make Shout! Factory’s recent re-issue of Get Shorty another title that deserves far more credit and attention than it has ever gotten.

MGM’s modern classic mobster comedy Get Shorty is not one of the studio’s most well-known offerings.  It is, however, a work that deserves far more credit and attention than it gets and has received.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story.  Based on the novel by author Elmore Leonard, the movie actually makes a valiant effort to stay true to its source material.  That is explained in the movie’s bonus material, which will be discussed later.  The story follows Chili Palmer (John Travolta – Michael, Look Who’s Talking, Pulp Fiction) as he goes from mobster/loan shark to Hollywood producer.  Along the way, he has to dodge two other mobsters, one who pursues him because of his connection to washed-up producer Harry Zim (Gene Hackman – Enemy of the State, The Poseidon Adventure, The French Connection) and the other because of Chili’s connection to fallen mobster Momo (Ron Karabatsos – Flashdance, Hunter, Surviving Christmas).  To make matters worse, the head of a South American drug cartel is after the prior mobster – Bo (Delroy Lindo – Malcolm X, Up, Ransom), leading Bo to have a second reason to come after Chili.  The whole thing sounds like quite the contrived story, and it is, but that is what makes the story so entertaining.  None of it is meant to be taken seriously, as the story is a satire of all the mobster and Hollywood insider movies ever offered to audiences. The execution translates the story’s satirical nature quite well and makes the multiple story lines relatively easy to follow at the same time.  This makes the movie’s story all the more entertaining, and in turn engaging.  Writer Scott Frank (Minority Report, Logan, The Lookout), who adapted Leonard’s book to the big screen deserves his own credit for his work here.  Speaking of people’s work, the cast’s work interpreting Frank’s adaptation adds even more entertainment and engagement to the movie.

Reaching once again to the movie’s companion bonus material, there is a mention in the bonus material of the cast being serious throughout the course of Get Shorty.  This is despite, again, the movie’s full-on satirical nature.  While the cast did in fact act with full seriousness, it was also obvious that the cast understood and appreciated that satirical nature.  This is evidenced in part through Travolta’s cool, confident demeanor as Chili.  He played the loan shark/mobster figure “to a T” yet still presents a certain air that helps make certain scenes so funny; scenes that in any standard gangster/mob movie would have been so tense.  The same applies with Lindo.  The scene in which he is confronted by Mr. Escobar (Miguel Sandoval – Jurassic Park, Clear and Present Danger, Sharp Objects) and his associates about the disappearance of his nephew, Yayo (Jacob Vargas – Heaven is Real, Sons of Anarchy, Luke Cage).  The scene in question is another mob/gangster standard, yet even in the moment, there is something about the back and forth between Lindo and Sandoval that makes the moment so funny.  The best explanation that this critic can give is that the dry, witty delivery is actually over the top in its own right, leading the moment to be just as funny as it is tense.  Again, that can be traced back to Scott Frank’s work on the script.  The moment’s atmosphere was developed quite well through Frank’s work, and interpreted so well by Sandoval and Lindo.  The end result of the moment is more proof of how the cast’s acting helps to translate the movie’s satirical nature, and in turn makes the movie that much more enjoyable.  Between that moment and so many equally entertaining moments featuring Travolta and the rest of the ensemble cast, the cast’s work on camera exemplifies so well, the comical nature of the story.  Each actor did such an applause-worthy job of interpreting his and her part in each scene.  It gives audiences that much more to appreciate about this movie.  It is not the last of the movie’s most important elements.  The bonus material, which has already been referenced multiple times here, rounds out the movie’s most important elements, and proves once more what makes this latest re-issue so enjoyable.

Audiences will be surprised to learn through Get Shorty’s bonus material that Danny DeVito was actually director Barry Sonnenfeld’s first choice to play Chili.  Just as surprising to learn is that Travolta actually did not want to be involved in Get Shorty at first, nor did Gene Hackman.  According to information presented in the interviews, Hackman did not originally want to take part in the movie because he “did not do comedies.”  Travolta’s reasoning was interesting in its own right, and will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  As previously noted, the bonus content also presents a moment in which Frank reveals how serious the whole cast was throughout the movie and the impact of those presentations to the overall satirical feeling in the movie.  He was right, as those presentations really do go a long way toward enhancing the story’s comical nature.  Sonnenfeld’s discussion on cinematography, which is also featured in the bonus material, will appeal greatly to cinephiles who have a deep appreciation for the art of capturing camera angles, lighting, etc.  The bonus audio commentary reveals in just the first 15 to 20 minutes of the movie that the real Chili Palmer actually plays a cameo guest appearance in the movie’s first scene.  Also revealed is that then well-known musical act Us3 provided music for the movie’s opening scene.  It is also revealed through the commentary that there is a tribute to none other than The Godfather at one point in the movie’s run.  That reference will also be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  Between all of the extra information and entertainment offered that is noted here and that, which is not noted here, the bonus content proves to offer just as much for audiences to appreciate as the movie’s story and the cast’s work.  When the breadth and depth of the bonus material is considered along with that noted primary content, the whole of Get Shorty becomes a presentation – in its latest presentation – that is another welcome addition to Shout! Factory’s ongoing Shout! Select series.

Shout! Factory’s recent re-issue of MGM’s modern classic Get Shorty is a welcome new addition to the company’s ongoing Shout! Select series.  That is proven in part through the movie’s fully satirical story, which spoofs so many of Hollywood’s countless mobster movies and Hollywood business flicks.  The cast’s work interpreting that satirical story adds even more enjoyment to the movie’s presentation.  The bonus material that is featured in the movie’s re-issue present plenty of their own entertainment and enlightenment for audiences, too.  Each element is important in its own way to the whole of Get Shorty.  All things considered, they make Get Shorty a wonderful new addition to Shout! Factory’s Shout! Select series, and to any true movie buff’s collection.  It is available now.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:




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