<preform>Be Cool (12A)</br>The Ring Two (15)</br>The Rage in Placid Lake (15)</br>The Keys to the House (PG)</preform>

Relax, doll - ain't you ever been in a crummy sequel?
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The Independent Culture

In theory, Be Cool (12A) is the sequel to 1995's Elmore Leonard adaptation, Get Shorty. In fact, it's more like a fancy dress party at a convention for Get Shorty fans. It keeps repeating catchphrases, jokes, plotlines and entire scenes from the first film, but always with a knowing nod and wink.

In theory, Be Cool (12A) is the sequel to 1995's Elmore Leonard adaptation, Get Shorty. In fact, it's more like a fancy dress party at a convention for Get Shorty fans. It keeps repeating catchphrases, jokes, plotlines and entire scenes from the first film, but always with a knowing nod and wink.

Whereas Get Shorty was a thriller with a lot of comedy in it, Be Cool is a comedy with one or two thrills. It's lighter, broader and dafter; there are musical numbers and wall-to-wall guest stars; and the pace is so relaxed it could be called Get Longy. As such, it's very easy to sit through, but don't expect to remember it for more than 12 seconds after you've stood up.

John Travolta is back as Chili Palmer, the racketeer-turned-movie mogul, but now he wants to be a music mogul instead. He teams up with Uma Thurman, a record-label boss's merry widow, to launch the career of Christina Milian, much to the annoyance of Vince Vaughn, Harvey Keitel, and a crowd of other trigger-happy gangsters. Fortunately for Chili, but unfortunately for anyone who wants an exciting film, these gangsters are all as thick as three short planks. Another problem with Be Cool is that, deep down, Get Shorty was the tale of a starstruck movie buff. And now we're supposed to believe that it's music, not cinema that gives Chili the chills? I don't buy it. Besides, Get Shorty was about a Miami loan shark who became an LA film producer; Be Cool is about an LA film producer who becomes an LA record producer. It's not hard to guess which one is better.

There are more scares in the first half hour of The Ring Two (15) than there were in the whole of The Ring. After that, however, there are barely any scares at all, just yet more scenes of Naomi Watts doing yet more sleuthing and uncovering yet more of the history of the ghost girl who's out to get her. Still, it is the sequel to a remake of a film based on a novel, so it's not surprising that The Ring cycle is going round in circles.

Despite the title, The Rage in Placid Lake (15) isn't a horror film about a deceptively calm body of water. Placid Lake (Ben Lee) is actually a person - and his New Age name indicates the hippy upbringing that's resulted in years of being beaten up in the playground. When he leaves school, he opts for total conformism, immediately getting a George W Bush haircut and a filing job in an insurance company. This quirky Australian satire is a few ideas short of a full film, but it does have some sly wit to recommend it.

The Keys to the House (PG) is an Italian Rain Man, except with a filial relationship instead of a fraternal one. A father and son haven't met since the son was born with cerebral palsy and his mother died in childbirth.

Brought together 15 years later, they travel to a clinic in Berlin where they get to know each other in drawn-out but affecting scenes that are impressively naturalistic, not least because Andrea Rossi has the same disabilities as the character he plays.

n.barber@independent.co.uk

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