John Travolta? Cool. Uma Thurman? Definitely cool. But their newest flick? Could “Be Cool”-er.

“Be Cool,” the film from director F. Gary Gray (“The Italian Job”), is the newest Elmore Leonard (“Get Shorty,” “Out of Sight”) novel adapted for the big screen.

The sequel features a few of the same characters as 1995’s “Get Shorty,” including Travolta’s return as gentleman gangster Chili Palmer, and a cameo from Danny DeVito as Martin Weir. Still, “Be Cool” may disappoint fans of “Shorty”.

I’ve long preached that even the most fantastic actors can’t save a crappy script. The cast features a slew of big names and solid performances. However, awkward dialogue and a few too many cheesy characters taint what could’ve been a great movie. Ultimately, “Be Cool” may become poster-child for lackluster films with fantastic casts.

The story follows Palmer (Travolta), the shylock-turned-movie producer last seen in “Get Shorty”, abandoning the fickle movie business for the flair of the music industry. After getting a pitch from record producer Tommy Athens (James Wood) for a film about his life (only to be gunned down by a group of Russians seconds later), Palmer decides he has the right stuff to make it in the music biz.

Palmer teams up with Athens’ widow Edie (Thurman) to make a star out of lounge singer Linda Moon (Christina Milian).

But they’ve got a few problems: Moon is managed by ruthless record exec Nick Carr (Harvey Keitel) and his idiotic business partner Raji (Vince Vaughn), who ultimately turn to extreme measures to keep Moon for themselves.

To make matters worse, Sin LaSalle (Cedric the Entertainer) and his team of gangsters are after Chili and Edie for the money the deceased Athens owed them.

Travolta is great in his return role as Palmer. Thurman also turns in a solid performance, but she often delivers her dialogue with unrealistic stiffness. Cedric the Entertainer and Vaughn are memorable, though not outstanding, in their roles as funny-guy gangsters. Milian is beautiful and charming, but compared with her vocals her acting leaves something to be desired.

There are a few surprisingly good performances as well. The Rock does well in his first major comedic role as an openly gay aspiring actor and Raji’s bodyguard. Similarly, Andre 300 of Outkast earns laughs as a trigger-happy thug in LaSalle’s gang.

I think what ultimately ruined this movie is that it tried too hard to live up to its name. There are just too many lame, media conscious moments that just don’t fly. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith’s cameo is so pathetic and stiff it was difficult to watch. He was so bad he actually dragged Travolta and Thurman’s acting down the drain in the scenes they shared.

And that dancing scene you’ve seen in the trailer? It’s nothing but a horribly choreographed attempt to recreate Travolta and Thurman’s classic dance scene in “Pulp Fiction,” except with a Black Eyed Peas song. Sigh.

Overall, younger fans will definitely be entertained with “Be Cool”, but movie buffs familiar with “Get Shorty” will know the truth: cool. But not cool enough.

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