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The sole bright light is Dwayne Johnson, charismatic and funny as Vaughn’s gay, country-music loving bodyguard (though the film sells him up the river too). The rights eventually lapsed, and after cycling through various cast options including Matt Dillon, Sienna Miller and William H.
Macy, Charles Matthau (son of the great Walter) finally got rolling on this independent, low-budget adaptation.
So something of a washout, but it’s hard to treat it as a true Leonard movie: by the writer’s account, he took the job for the money, and was mostly rewritten by the film’s director, Fred Walton (“When A Stranger Calls“).
If you do watch it, it’s worth keeping an eye out for a cameo from a young Jack White as an altar boy. “The Big Bounce” (1969)Though he’d been writing for over a decade and had already been adapted to the screen several times, “The Big Bounce” was the novel that set up the template for much of what we think of as the archetypal Elmore Leonard story — his first full-length contemporary crime story, it features much of the quirkiness, double-crosses, femme fatales, and everything that’s come to figure into his best known work.
While the studio did cut Ferrera’s film nearly in half by the time it was released, even then, it’s hard to imagine that there’s some hidden masterpiece of a cut out there.
It’s not his most fully realized effort, but on the page, it’s a lot of fun and it’s not surprising that it’s come to the screen twice.
As we’ve seen already, the recent Owen Wilson-starring version was a misfire, but unfortunately, the 1969 original was nearly as problematic.
All the ingredients are there, but Armitage can’t decide on a tone; it’s equal part crime comedy, easy-going Hawaii postcard and super-broad comedy.
Like the original, it’s a bit turgid and aimless (it’s not Leonard’s tightest-plotted novel in the first place), but Armitage lays on an omnipresent, irritatingly jaunty George Clinton score that just plain murders any tension and the film seems so keen to be ingratiating that it forgets to be interesting. The film aspires to a certain effortless, but it’s only too obvious on screen how little anyone involved cares about what they’re doing. “Cat Chaser” (1989)Leonard was increasingly dissatisfied with screen versions of his work as the 1980s continued (rightly so, as we’ll see), but “Cat Chaser“ must have felt somewhat like the final straw: another bad-tempered production, another picture re-cut by the studio, and another film that barely saw a release (it got a theatrical outing in the UK and elsewhere, but went straight to DVD in the US).
In fairness, the novel “Be Cool” is far from Leonard’s finest hour, but it’s a masterpiece compared to the laugh-less script by Peter Steinfeld (“Analyze That“) and tension-free direction by F. Creaky and dated, the moment the sets were taken down (not helped by the presence of the now-forgotten, deeply bland Milian and cameos from the likes of Fred Durst), it seems to have been made by people with no sense of how the record industry actually works or any feel for what made “Get Shorty” so enjoyable.