26 January 1999 | Phoenix-36
Smart, funny, devastating satire of the Hollywood scene
This film is based on the Elmore Leonard book of the same name. This is a hilarious satire of Hollywood. Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is a loan shark from Miami tracking down a deadbeat who has run off. Palmer's travels take him to Hollywood, where he meets Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman). Zimm is a producer of major motion pictures (read B horror flicks). His lover is Karen (Rene Russo). His meetings give Palmer the "movie bug."
Already a huge movie fan, Palmer decides to produce "Mr. Lovejoy" a script that Zimm proclaims will be hs "Driving Miss Daisy." The plot centers around efforts to raise the necessary money and land Martin Weir (Danny DeVito) in the lead role. Fortunately Weir is Karen's es-husband. And Palmer has access to $300,000 generated from Las Vegas winnings of the missing deadbeat, Leo. As a further complication there is a drug dealer (Delroy Lindo) who has invested in one of Zimm's pictures. But he has gotten in trouble with his supplier for $500,000 and a missing nephew.
DeVito does a wonderful job playing the self-involved, pretentious Weir. There are wonderful comments about screen writers. Spelling is optional, not necessary. The role of a screenwriter is just to put the commas in where they belong. Travolta is delightful as a "nice guy" wiseguy. In fact, the entire cast is just great.
The plot lines never overwhelm the film, and they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. (Note: Thanks to Pulp Fiction, studios are willing now to use non-linear plot lines on occasion.). The ending is terrific (watch for the cameo by Harvey Keitel). I saw this in the theatre and have seen it several times on video. This one is definitely a keeper.