Blu-ray Review: Get Shorty (1995)

By , Contributor
Nearly a quarter century after its original release, Shout Select has honored Get Shorty with a fresh Blu-ray edition. Boasting a brand new transfer, director Barry Sonnenfeld's crime comedy has never looked better. The unfortunate thing about the film, based on a novel (of the same name) by Elmore Leonard, is that time simply has not been kind. John Travolta, still riding high on his return to the A-List a year after Pulp Fiction, still epitomizes cool confidence as loan shark-turned-film producer Chili Palmer. And of course he's surrounded by a top notch cast. It's just that the pacing and humor that seemed so fresh and whipsmart in '95 now feels leaden.

The Hollywood send-up aspect of the plot, as Palmer gets involved with schlock producer Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman), is unnecessarily pleased with itself—snarky and smug. As if the film-industry-as-organized-crime metaphor is particularly clever (come to think of it, maybe it's perfect for the Twitter-era). But it's not especially clever, and Sonnenfeld's handling of Scott Frank's ever-winking screenplay turns 105 minutes into a true slog. With Danny DeVito as acclaimed actor Martin Weir, Rene Russo as scream queen Karen Flores, Delroy Lindo as crime figure and film financier Bo Catlett, and David Paymer as Chili Palmer's initial inspiration to even try his luck in the film industry, there are plenty of reasons to get Get Shorty.

But the plot mechanics unfold in such static, workmanlike fashion that the best efforts of the over-qualified cast can't quite redeem it. Travolta scored a Golden Globe for his efforts (not undeserved) and the film itself was up for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (it lost the Globe to Babe, for the record).

Shout Select's Blu-ray transfer upgrades previous editions from a visual standpoint, though that's the only reason to double-dip if you don't already have this in your collection. The extras—a Sonnenfeld commentary track and a slew of featurettes—are all carried over from previous home video releases.

Get Shorty BD.jpg

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Chaz Lipp is a Las Vegas-based musician and freelance writer. His new jazz album 'Good Merlin' is now available.

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