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Barry Sonnenfeld
John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Rene Russo
Writing Credits:
Scott Frank

A mobster travels to Hollywood to collect a debt, and discovers that the movie business is much the same as his current job.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend:
$12,700,007 on 1612 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $34.93
Release Date: 10/23/2018

• Audio Commentary with Director Barry Sonnenfeld
• “Look At Me” Featurette
• “Wiseguys and Dolls” Featurette
• “Going Again!” Featurette
• “The Graveyard Scene” Featurette
• Party Reel
• “Page-to-Screen of Get Shorty” Featurette
• Vignettes
• Trailer


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Get Shorty: Collector's Edition [Blu-Ray] (1995)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 11, 2018)

A star-studded adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel, 1995’s Get Shorty introduces us to gangster Chili Palmer (John Travolta), the muscle who enforces loans owed to his boss Momo (Ron Karabatsos). At the movie’s start, we witness the antagonism between Chili and a colleague named Ray “Bones” Barboni (Dennis Farina).

This leads to a war between the pair that turns complicated when Momo dies. This puts Momo’s accounts under the control of Ray’s boss Jimmy Caps (Alex Rocco), and that gives Ray power over Chili.

Back to business: after he narrowly escapes a plane crash, drycleaner Leo Devoe (David Paymer) skips out and pretends to be dead so he can collect money from the airline. He abandons his “widow” (Linda Hart) back in Miami while he parties in Las Vegas.

Chili tracks him there but he finds out Leo’s gone to LA. Since Chili will go to California anyway, he agrees to track down Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman) as a favor to casino head Dick Allen (Bobby Slayton).

When the film jumps to California, we meet Zimm and actress/occasional girlfriend Karen Flores (Rene Russo) in bed at her house. Chili breaks in to roust Harry, but the pair start to chat and Zimm becomes fascinated by Chili’s movie pitch. It seems that Chili’s a film buff, and now that he’s in LA, he decides he’d like to get into that business.

This sets many complicated threads into motion. Harry needs money to produce Mr. Lovejoy, a flick that he hopes will star noted actor Martin Weir (Danny De Vito).

Gangsters Bo Catlett (Delroy Lindo) and Ronnie Wingate (Jon Gries) already have an investment in another Zimm flick, so Harry wants Chili to get them off his case and let him move on to Mr. Lovejoy. Eventually matters turn into a battle over the production of that flick and other matters. In addition, Ray comes out to find Chili and get his money, while Palmer and Karen start to fall in love.

While the enormous success of Pulp Fiction resurrected Travolta’s career in 1994, Shorty established that he could do well in other projects. Of course, Travolta’s days as a true “A”-list actor wouldn’t last, as he’d soon bury himself in junk like Battlefield: Earth and Domestic Disturbance. But at least he managed to remove any doubt that Pulp was his last hurrah.

Indeed, Travolta is likely the best thing about the often-mediocre Shorty. In a lot of his later endeavors, Travolta lacks a natural presence, so he forces his emotions and actions in such a way that it really feels like he’s acting.

Those problems don’t mar his work in Shorty, as he stays light and loose. Granted, his accent doesn’t always convince, but Travolta keeps things lively.

The presence of a stellar supporting cast doesn’t hurt. Travolta enjoys nice chemistry with Russo, and the other actors create enjoyable personalities. They’re professionals who don’t steal the show from Travolta, but they reinforce his lead and make the movie satisfying.

Oddly, Sonnenfeld doesn’t create a very vivid world for his actors. Like most cinematographers-turned-directors, Sonnenfeld knows his visuals, and many of his flicks like The Addams Family and Men in Black often favor stylistic areas at the expense of story and character.

In the glossy environments of LA and Miami, a tale like Shorty begs for similar treatment. That’s especially true since it concentrates on a snappy, fast-moving plot.

However, Sonnenfeld fails to deliver the necessary mood. He makes the movie plod much of the time, so it rarely takes on the dynamic and vibrant feel it needs.

Sonnenfeld doesn’t actively harm Get Shorty, as the cast and the script deliver enough zip to make it entertaining. Unfortunately, the director doesn’t serve the material particularly well. He creates a somewhat bland and flat piece that goes for an understated tone when it should be over the top.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B+

Get Shorty appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though somewhat inconsistent, the image usually looked pretty good.

Sharpness became the most erratic element, mainly during wide interiors, as those could look oddly soft. However, these didn’t pop up often enough to create real concerns, so most of the movie seemed well-defined.

I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, though, and the movie lacked edge haloes. Outside of one or two specks, the image remained clean.

With sunny locations in Miami and LA, I expected bright, vibrant tones, and Shorty often delivered them. The colors didn’t burst off the screen, but they appeared appropriately vivid.

Blacks were dark and tight, while low-light shots offered nice delineation. This wasn’t a great image but it was more than satisfactory.

Although the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Get Shorty suffered from no particular flaws, it got a “B-“ due to its lack of ambition, as the soundfield usually focused on the forward channels. In that realm, we got good stereo imaging for the score and decent use of the sides for ambience.

However, the film rarely attempted anything more involving than that. It presented general environmental information and little else. That meant the surrounds didn’t have much to do. Some shots at the airport kicked them to life briefly, but not many other sequences took advantage of the possibilities.

At least the quality of the audio remained positive. Speech consistently sounded crisp and distinctive, and I noticed no concerns with edginess or intelligibility.

Music was bright and bouncy, as the score showed good range and clarity. Though few of the effects taxed my system, they always were clean and natural, with good depth as needed. There just wasn’t enough action on display to warrant a grade above a “B-“, though.

How did the 2018 Blu-ray compare to the 2005 Special Edition DVD? Audio showed a bit more warmth and range, while visuals appeared tighter, more dynamic and smoother. This turned into a clear upgrade, especially in terms of picture.

The Blu-ray brings back the DVD extras, and we find an audio commentary from director Barry Sonnenfeld. He offers a running, screen-specific track originally recorded in 1996 for the laserdisc.

On the positive side, Sonnenfeld touches on many good nuggets. He gets into locations, story issues and changes made along the way, the cast and their work, and some technical topics.

However, his low-key attitude makes the track sound awfully monotone much of the time, and the commentary really drags on occasion. Occasional gaps appear, and Sonnenfeld often does little more than tell us what he likes about the movie, so “I love this shot” becomes a running line. There’s enough here to make the commentary useful, but it’s fairly erratic.

A few featurettes follow, and we open with Look At Me. This 26-minute, 56-second program provides notes from Sonnenfeld, author Elmore Leonard, screenwriter Scott Frank, and actors John Travolta, Danny De Vito, Gene Hackman, and Rene Russo.

They discuss story and character issues, adaptation concerns, casting and approaches to the roles. Despite - or perhaps because of - that limited focus, “Look” offers a delightful look at its topics. We get a nice examination of the actors’ work, and the entertaining insights and stories from Hackman and De Vito help. Too many movie clips appear, but it’s a lot of fun anyway.

Next comes Wiseguys and Dolls. In this 20-minute, 30-second piece, we find notes from Sonnenfeld, De Vito, Frank, Russo, Hackman and actors Delroy Lindo and Dennis Farina.

“Dolls” acts as an extension of “Look at Me”, as it focuses on more character and adaptation issues. We also find details about the movie’s violence and stunts as well as Sonnenfeld’s influence on the production. It’s not quite as entertaining as “Me” since it doesn’t feature as much from De Vito and Hackman, but it nonetheless presents nice insight into the film and its participants.

For some unused material, we head to The Graveyard Scene. The seven-minute, 47-second featurette features remarks from Sonnenfeld and actor Ben Stiller as they discuss the sequence’s creation and various facets plus why it didn’t make the final cut.

We then check out the deleted “Graveyard Scene” on its own. It provides an entertaining piece.

For the next featurette, we get Going Again. The five-minute, 35-second program presents notes from Sonnenfeld about the painful slowness of shooting movies and how little control directors usually have.

He discusses this a little in his commentary, as it connects to De Vito’s decision to never allow him to say “cut”, but it’s cool to see the actual alternate takes from the actor. De Vito chimes in with a few remarks as well.

The Party Reel acts as a collection of outtakes and behind the scenes footage. The piece shows five minutes, 50 seconds of footage usually accompanied by some of the movie’s score.

It’s mildly amusing to watch the actors goof around, and we eventually see some bloopers. It’s a little more entertaining than usual, but not much.

Hosted by Peter Gallagher, the 29-minute, 35-second Page to Screen of Get Shorty offers comments from Travolta, Leonard, Sonnenfeld, Frank, Farina, author/literary critic Martin Amis, book researcher Gregg Sutter, Ernest “Chili” Palmer, literary agent Michael Siegel, producers Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg, talent agent Fred Specktor, Quentin Tarantino, cinematographer Donald Peterman, and actor David Paymer.

Part of a Bravo series, the program covers Leonard’s approach to writing and the development of Shorty, its roots in reality and research, the book’s success and its slow path to Hollywood, adaptation issues and changes from the novel, themes and character elements, casting, the actors’ approaches to their roles, Sonnenfeld’s approach to the material and his work on the set, the director’s worries about the flick, and the film’s success.

Inevitably, “Page” repeats some of the information heard during the commentary and the other featurettes, but it acts as the disc’s best general overview. It goes through the tale from start to finish quite well.

It lacks immense depth but it touches on all of the highlights in a concise and satisfying manner. Heck, we even hear Travolta acknowledge that he embodies Hollywood stereotypes since he orders off the menu and doesn’t know his own phone number!

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find four Vignettes. These fill a total of six minutes, five seconds and bring comments from Sonnenfeld for the first two and De Vito for the rest.

De Vito gives us a few nuggets related to the movie’s development, while Sonnenfeld covers some lesser-known aspects of being a director. Both offer interesting bits, but Sonnenfeld proves more engaging.

Though Get Shorty often becomes funny and entertaining, it doesn’t quite live up to its potential. While it enjoys strong source material as well as good performances, it fails to deliver the zest and pizzazz it needs to thrive. The Blu-ray offers generally positive picture and audio along with an informative compilation of bonus materials. I don’t like the movie as much as I would prefer, but this becomes a nice release.

To rate this film, visit the prior review of GET SHORTY

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