Opening day for F. Gary Gray’s “Be Cool” means a thankful end to the horrible commericals playing 24-7 on NBA TV, ESPN, etc. It also means that Dwanye Johnson gets to flex his considerable acting chops, this time in a non-action setting. Can you smell what Manohla Dargis is cooking? From Friday’s New York Times.
Having tried his hand at movie producing in the first story, Chili this time around turns his attention to the music business, or more precisely, two of its hopefuls: a record producer, Edie Athens (Uma Thurman), and a young R&B singer, Linda Moon (Christina Milian). Complications and bad behavior ensue, most generated by various stereotypes sporting gold chains and attitude.
The sole exception to this parade of unsavory types is a gay Samoan bodyguard, Elliot Wilhelm, played with great good humor by the Rock. Charming and unexpectedly funny, the Rock wears his muscles and his role lightly. Although the character is subjected to a number of crude gay epithets, none of which I recall from the novel, the Rock deflects their sting by making Elliot into a pussycat and stealing the show. Elliot looks like a stone-cold killer, but that isn’t the part he yearns to play: he sings (his cover of Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough” is all heart and no ear), but what he really wants to do is act. His audition monologue for Chili is the only reason to recommend “Be Cool” when it shows up any minute now on DVD.