Rotting trash heap
The end-of-the-summer cinematic trash heap already stunk like a mofo with last week’s Anacondas. Now comes Paparazzi, which isn’t even good enough to be worthy of straight-to-video status. This sucker should’ve been thrown in the corner, peed upon by everyone at Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions (the responsible party), and left to rot in a stinking pile. How this film got a big-screen release and cameos from the likes of Gibson, Vince Vaughn and Chris Rock is beyond me. Actually, not really. Gibson is probably friends with Vaughn and Rock—we know he’s tight with Jesus Christ our lord and personal savior—so some strings may have been pulled.
Cole Hauser stars as Bo Laramie, a film star about to hit it big on the strengths of his new, hot action film, Adrenalin Force (like anybody would get all hyped up for something called Adrenalin Force). While visiting a nice, down-home, country-style convenience store in Malibu (yeah, right), he discovers that a National Enquirer-type magazine has put him and his wife (Robin Tunney) on the cover … naked!
After his bare butt is displayed nationally without his express and written permission, Bo starts to become agitated. Things hit critical mass when a stalking paparazzi (the eternally sucky Tom Sizemore) refuses to stop taking pictures of Bo’s kid at a soccer game. Clearly, “Bo Laramie’s Kid Actually Plays Soccer With Other Kids!” is a hot prospective headline, and the photographers will stop at nothing in the pursuit of pictures on the subject. Bo punches the photographer in the face, and the war on sleazy photojournalists begins.
Bo is quickly arrested and sentenced to anger-management therapy, where he is saddled with the world’s all-time worst, most condescending therapist. Anybody who was certified to practice anger-management therapy, and then talked in the snobbish “you are the child, and I am your master” tone that actress Jordan Baker employs would not only have her license revoked, but would probably take a few chairs upside the head, as well.
In a sick nod to the Princess Diana tragedy, paparazzi chase Bo and his family in his car, resulting in an accident that sends the kid into a coma, and, not surprisingly, prompts the wife’s spleen removal (spleen damage being the number-one serious, but not too serious, movie car-accident injury).
Well now, Bo’s really pissed, and he comes up with a lot of improbable revenge scenarios to see that every paparazzi pays dearly for his kid’s coma and his wife’s spleen. This includes purposely dropping people off cliffs, framing paparazzi for other paparazzi murders and, my personal favorite, planting a fake gun on a paparazzi so that he pulls it out in time for police to blow him away.
After this and 2 Fast 2 Furious, it seems as if Hauser is looking to be the new king of shit cinema. He’s delivered some credible work in the past (White Oleander, Higher Learning), but his work here is an embarrassment. Sizemore, who recently got busted for drugs, seems as if plenty of illegal substances were racing through his veins as the cameras rolled on this one. He’s unhinged, abrasive and a little too wild-eyed to be considered clean and sober. Anybody who prosecutes this guy in the near future should use this film as evidence. “Look your honor … he’s clearly on crank!”
With its typical B-movie revenge-film formula, à la Death Wish, and its terribly stereotypical script, à la Death Wish 5, Paparazzi gives an already bad film genre a bad name. If anything, director Paul Abascal (a former hairstylist who did Sly Stallone’s head in Judge Dredd) has managed to make a film not unlike its title subject: It’s rude, ugly, pushy and deserving of much hatred. (CPL, CR, CS, NM)