Most gangster or mafia comedies are from the over the top school. Many funny movies about Hollywood feature more inside jokes directed at the writer's various celeb friends than at the audience. Get Shorty, based on the Elmore Leonard novel, is a great funny movie about gangsters in Hollywood that everyone can love with great subtle humor.
Movie fan and shylock Chili Palmer (John Travolta) goes to the west coast to collect money some guy owes the people he works for. Once in Hollywood, he decides the movie business is a lot more fun than the crime business and tries to figure out a way to get himself involved in the trade. This is not as easy as it sounds as money is what makes the celluloid reel go round and soon all the movie people are into crime while all the crime people want to get into the movies.
This is a comedy DVD movie fans will particularly enjoy as there are countless subtle and not so subtle references to other Hollywood fare. One interesting moment is when Travolta is in bed with Rene Russo and says, "I can't see myself in a movie where three guys are left with a baby." This is definitely a case of look who's talking.
Get Shorty features a who's who of mob and crime movies including Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, James Gandolfini (in his pre Sopranos days), the always interesting Delroy Lindo, and Law and Order something or other cop Dennis Farina as a Miami mobster called, of course, Bones.
This is a movie with subtle humor relying on the juxtaposition of the race for money in the movie business with the search for the loot in the crime world. Neither is an easy task the Travolta character says, "Rough business, this movie business. I may have to go back to loan sharking just to take a rest."
There are a couple of unfinished secondary stories in Get Shorty and the end, although a brilliant fade from the movie you are watching to the movie Chili Palmer wanted to get made (which is the movie you are watching), feels a bit messy as you do not quite know who these new players are and what the deal is.
MGM Home Entertainment also has Be Cool, the sort of music business sequel to this movie available on DVD.