Get Shorty

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Details At A Glance

Category Satire Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1, 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1995 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time
100:34 minutes
(not 105 minutes as on packaging)
Other Extras Booklet
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (62:34)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection then Menu
Region 2,4 Director Barry Sonnenfeld
Warner Home Video
Starring John Travolta 
Gene Hackman 
Rene Russo 
Danny DeVito
Case Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music John Lurie

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16 x 9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ?Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or
After Credits

Plot Synopsis

    Another Elmore Leonard novel makes it to the big screen - and another great film that previously had avoided me! And having now seen it, I don't understand why I have missed it.

    And just what category does the film get placed into? I find the category of comedy to be a little incorrect and action it really is not, but satire seems to fit the bill. It is a marvellous satire of not just the mob, but also of Hollywood and the way it works.

    This is quite a complex story, and it is difficult to provide a short synopsis without losing the complexity. Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is a loan shark seeking a potential change of pace, especially when his boss dies and he now finds himself having to work under Ray "Bones" Barboni (Dennis Farina), a man he cannot stand. So when business takes him to Las Vegas and on to Los Angeles, he sees an opportunity to change his profession. Especially as his "target" in Los Angeles is a fringe filmmaker in the form of Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman), and he pitches him a story about his other current "target", Leo Devoe (David Paymer) - a supposedly deceased launderette operator who scammed an airline out of $300,000. Harry's current flame is B movie queen Karen Flores (Rene Russo), who also happens to be the ex-wife of current star actor Martin Weir (Danny DeVito), who also happens to be the proposed star on a new film from Harry - if he can come up with $500,000 to buy the script from the widow of the writer of many of his previous films. But the complications continue as the investors bankrolling Harry's films turn out to be some businessmen, led by Bo Catlett (Delroy Lindo), who are involved in rather dubious merchandise - namely drugs. Bo has $500,000 sitting in a locker at L.A. International Airport after a recent courier got scared to pick up the money, but is not too thrilled with Harry's new partner Chili, and promises it to Harry - as long as Chili picks it up. Harry wants the $300,000 Chili got off Leo and calls in Bones to see if that will get Chili out of the picture, since Chili has not been forthcoming with money for the new film. It gets a tad complicated, but eventually the film from Chili's pitch gets made - presumably under the title of Get Shorty!

    It really is a wonderfully dense story that I simply cannot do justice to - all I can say is watch the film, it is a delight. John Travolta copped a Golden Globe for this effort, and it is not difficult to see why either. His performance is a nicely composed portrayal of the smart-talking, smart-thinking loan shark. Rene Russo plays a role she was born for - the beautiful leading lady with a slightly comic edge. Gene Hackman is his usual reliable self as the fringe filmmaker always looking for the big one, despite the few obstacles in his way. Danny DeVito, in an admittedly minor role plays the self-obsessed star to perfection. But as good as the leads are, it is the minor roles that show real distinction. Dennis Farina is wonderful as Bones, Delroy Lindo (an actor I much admire) is superb as the drug smuggler investor and James Gandolfini pops up in a slightly quirkier role than normal. Add to that a couple of nice little cameos (uncredited I might add) from Bette Midler and Harvey Keitel and this is quite wonderful across the entire cast. Barry Sonnenfeld did a superb job bringing this marvellous story to the big screen (and thankfully without indulging in too many obvious product placements which were totally expected).

    This is a pearler of a film and if you have never seen it, I would urge you to get this out for a view as soon as possible. Wonderfully entertaining stuff that regrettably we do not see as often as we should from Hollywood.

Transfer Quality


    And a superb film deserves a superb transfer. Guess what - it gets one. I love this transfer.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    In many ways this transfer reminds of that given The Negotiator. It is a gorgeously sharp and detailed transfer that is virtually flawless. The definition here is quite magnificent and about the only complaint is that a few odd scenes lose just a little in shadow detail as a result of the slightly rich tone that the film is (presumably) intended to have - and therefore may be exactly what was intended. It is a wonderfully clear transfer and there is absolutely nothing even remotely like low level noise problems in the transfer. Really gorgeous stuff indeed.

    The colours are gorgeously rendered throughout the film in a lovely rich tone, and they are wonderfully vibrant throughout. Sorry, but there is nothing else to say about it - it is that impressive.

    And there are even less problems in the technical aspects of the transfer. There were no MPEG artefacts noted in the transfer. If there were any film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, then I missed them. And film artefacts were virtually non-existent, the only one of any note being a rather large black mark on the transfer at 10:25. Hey, I only took note because it was about the only thing I could find wrong with the transfer.

    And it is possibly a reflection of this disc being an RSDL format disc - with the layer change coming at 62:34 - for a reasonably short film that the transfer is so good. Plenty of space here to maintain a very high transfer rate. I have seen films longer than this squeezed onto a single layer disc. The layer change by the way is not the best positioned on earth, but it does extend a shortish kiss into a decently long kiss. As with apparently all the transfers in this comparatively monster batch of releases from MGM, it is from a French master.


    And the wonderful video transfer is matched by a very nice soundtrack.

    There are five audio tracks on the DVD: an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a German Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded soundtrack and a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. I listened to the English default. The packaging states the Italian soundtrack to be Dolby Digital 5.1, but it is not.

    Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.

    There were no apparent audio sync problems with the disc.

    The score by John Lurie is a rather nice jazzy effort which I thoroughly enjoyed and which is wonderfully complementary to the film.

    This is a nicely detailed soundtrack, although not providing a huge amount of use for the rear and bass channels. But then again, the film is not a film that gives a huge amount of opportunity for the big surround presence, though there are the odd occasions when perhaps it could have been using a little more oomph. The soundscape is a very natural one and lacks nothing in believability, and you certainly feel a part of the film.


    One of the more usual basic packages from MGM, which is admittedly better than the efforts of a few other distributors.


Theatrical Trailer (2:34)


R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 release misses out on:     Unless the Pan and Scan option is a necessity (which seems a bit odd for a 1.85:1 film), the choice would have to be the Region 4 version owing to the inherent superiority of the PAL system.


    Just get the damn film already.

    A gorgeous video transfer.

    A very good audio transfer.

    A minimal extras package.

    And apart from the error in the labelling of the Italian soundtrack, the packaging proudly proclaims this to be a 16:9 anamorphic stretch. Sounds like some sort of torture method employed by the Spanish Inquisition. Come on guys - the term is 16x9 enhanced. We understand it, why can't you use it?

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
27th January 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL