Get Shorty is a 1995 crime-comedy-thriller film based on Elmore Leonard's novel of the same name. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and starring John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, and Danny DeVito, the plot remained true to the book except for a few minor details.
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Chili Palmer (John Travolta), a loan shark based in Miami, clashes with another mobster, Ray "Bones" Barboni (Dennis Farina). Barboni borrows Chili's jacket without permission, and Chili gets it back after slugging Barboni. After several more confrontations, Barboni tried to get his boss, Jimmy Capp (Alex Rocco) involved. Capp refuses to go to mob war over such a trivial matter as Chili's jacket. When Palmer's New York boss, Momo, dies of a heart attack, he quickly finds himself working for Barboni. Barboni's first order is for Palmer to collect a 18K loansharking debt owed by dry cleaner Leo Devoe (David Paymer). Devoe was believed to be killed in a fatal commercial airliner crash. Owing loan shark money to Palmer, a panicky Devoe had got off his flight, started slamming down drinks, and failed to re-board. After his plane crashed, Devoe's wife, Faye, identified his personal effects. The airliner quickly offered her a check for $300,000, assuming Devoe had been aboard the aircraft. When Chili visits Devoe's widow to see if he had any flight insurance, she suddenly tells him Leo is actually still alive, and partying in Las Vegas.
While looking for Devoe in Vegas, Palmer picks up a job from a casino manager, Dick Allen (Bobby Slayton), to collect a gambling debt from a B-movie producer named Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman). When Palmer locates Zimm at actress Karen Flores' house, he agrees to pay back the money he owes the casino in 90 days. On an aside, Palmer then pitches a movie idea to the producer: a thinly veiled story of his own recent life. Zimm is interested in the concept, but he has financial problems of his own. He owes $200,000 to drug dealer Bo Catlett (Delroy Lindo). Palmer tells Zimm he will help Zimm take care of it. In the interim, Palmer tracks down Devoe and collects the $300,000 in insurance money, plus another $10,000, which he promises to pay back plus interest. Palmer returns the next day, and asks Karen Flores (Rene Russo) out. Flores is the ex-wife of famed actor Martin Weir (Danny DeVito), who is just the man Palmer wants to star in his life story. With Karen, Palmer pitches Weir the story idea. Weir seems very interested in the script ideas.
When Catlett visits Zimm for a progress report about the film he is supposedly financing, Palmer tells Catlett that Zimm has a project he needs to finish first. Catlett wants to produce the new film, Mr. Lovejoy, but Harry claims he cannot do that, as the new film deal is "structured". Catlett and his sidekick Ronnie (John Gries) then threaten Harry, saying they want their $200,000 back immediately. In the meantime Catlett's drug dealing business has had problems with cash shortages and Mexican mafia dealers wanting money. Chili has problems too, as a drunken Harry has recklessly called Ray Barboni in Miami, and told him Chili has recovered the money from Leo Devoe. Barboni is soon on his way to Los Angeles. A few days later, Catlett offers Zimm $500,000 interest free to drop Palmer's help and let him produce the film. Palmer soon asks Karen Flores (Rene Russo) out. Karen, is a low-budget actress and the ex-wife of actor Martin Weir. Martin is the man Palmer wants to help him produce and star in his story. Through Karen, Palmer pitches Weir the idea. Weir seems interested. As a romance starts developing between Palmer and Karen, they begin to realize they both have a love for movies, too.
Bo Catlett is upset about his failing drug business, and the fact Harry will not let him produce Mr. Lovejoy. Desperate for money, Catlett kidnaps Karen and demands the money that Chili has gotten back from Leo Devoe. Though Chili turns over the money he received from Devoe, Catlett reneges on their deal. Catlett's double crossing henchman, Bear (James Gandolfini), starts beating on Chili on Catlett's balcony. In the ensuing struggle, Catlett is pushed against the balcony railing (which was earlier secretly weakened by Bear). Catlett plummets to his death. At his hotel the same night, Barboni confronts Palmer, searching him until he finds the airport locker key. At the airport, upon opening the locker, Barboni is confronted by police and arrested.
The final scene is on a Hollywood studio set at MGM, with actor Harvey Keitel playing Ray Barboni and Martin Weir as Palmer. Directing them is Penny Marshall, with Zimm as executive producer, Chili and Karen as co-producers. Bear appears as a technical consultant. Bette Midler is at the studio in an uncredited part as Harry's girlfriend.
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