Paparazzi review by Mike LongWhen the marketing wizards in Hollywood must decide how to sell a film, they typically start by determining who the film's target audience is. Is it children? Teenagers? Adults? Or is it a geographic question, where the film should be aimed at an urban audience? Paparazzi may be the first film which appears to be targeted directly to celebrities and the rest of us will just have to assume that we understand the movie's odd message.
Cole Hauser stars as up-and-coming actor Bo Laramie in Paparazzi. Bo is a simple mid-western boy who has suddenly found fame and fortune with his action film, "Adrenaline Force". Because of this change in status, Bo finds that his life, as well as that of his wife, Abby (Robin Tunney), and son, Zach (Blake Bryan), is now open for all to see. Bo, who has begun to appear on the covers of tabloids, attempts to take this in stride, but when sleazy photographer Rex Harper (Tom Sizemore) follows Zach to a soccer game, Bo assaults the man. Unfortunately, Rex's cohorts, Wendell (Daniel Baldwin), Leonard (Tom Hollander), and Kevin (Kevin Gage), are also on the scene and get plenty of photos of Bo's outrage. Following this, a war of words begins between Bo and the photographers. Determined to teach Bo what it means to be famous, Rex and his group pursue Bo, which leads to a tragic accident. Following this, Bo decides to turn the tables on the paparazzi and seeks them out one-by-one to get his revenge.
Paparazzi is an odd movie to say the least. The movie presents us with a likable character, who just happens to be rich and famous, and then asks us to feel sorry for him. That's a lot to ask -- but then the movie invites us to join Bo on his path to vengeance. Yes, what happened to his family was tragic, but Bo takes the law into his own hands and the film's story quickly spirals out of control. All movies ask us for suspension of disbelief to some extent, but Paparazzi is a film that clearly wasn't intended for middle-America. As noted above, this movie appears to have been made by Hollywood for Hollywood, and it's hard for a mainstream audience to have any kind of emotional investment into the film. By way of comparison, just look at Rob Reiner's Misery. That was another film which dealt with the price of fame and most of us will never know what it's like to be kidnapped by a crazed fan. And yet, it was very easy to get caught up in that story and identify with the victim's fear, even if we couldn't identify with his predicament.
And now, here comes the sad part: I've seen movies a lot worse than Paparazzi and if you can get past, or better, ignore the film's impossible premise, it's not a bad thriller. Much has been made of the fact that director Paul Abascal is a former Hollywood hair stylist who had worked with Mel Gibson in the past, who produced Paparazzi. Some of Paparazzi is over-directed, as Abascal goes for many "big" shots, but it's also competently directed. (Checking Abascal's resume, he's directed many television shows in the past.) The 85-minute film moves along at a nice pace and is never boring. Dennis Farina plays the role that he always plays -- that of a very wise detective who doesn't trust anyone -- who is assigned to Bo's case. His character works as a link to the audience - much more than Bo does -- as he judges the morals behind Bo's actions, and this actually adds to the movie. And we the audience become involved in this judgment as well, as we gauge whether or not Bo's actions are justified. The film contains four nice cameos (one of which should be easy to guess) and even when the movie becomes very dark, it never loses a sense of playfulness. Paparazzi isn't a complete disaster and works as a "guilty pleasure", similar to those cookie-cutter action films which show on HBO or Cinemax late at night. However. the fact that Paparazzi is a semi-decent thriller doesn't change the fact that it's a very twisted movie that only the truly famous could love.
Paparazzi stalks its way onto DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The DVD is a "flipper" and contains both the widescreen and full-frame versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer looks very good, as the image is quite sharp and clear. There is a slight amount of grain on the image, but otherwise, it's very clear. The colors look fine and the picture is never overly dark or bright. There is a slight amount of edge-enhancement here, but it's not distracting. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which works very well. The dialogue is always sharp and clear and there's no hissing on the track. The film is littered with moments of nice surround sound and there are several incidents where the subwoofer action truly adds to the film.
The Paparazzi DVD contains a few extras, which are spread across the two sides of the disc. The audio commentary from director Paul Abascal appears on both the widescreen and full-frame versions. It's not a bad commentary, but it's quite bland. Abascal talks about the production and the cast, but his talk is always quite superficial and it sounds as if he's reading someone else's notes about the movie. The "Full-frame" side of the disc contains "The Stunts of Paparazzi". This 9-minute segment examines the two big stunt sequences in the film and contains a great deal of behind-the-scenes footage. On the "Widescreen" side of the DVD, we find 3 "Deleted Scenes", which can be viewed with or without commentary from Abascal. These 3 scenes total a little over 2 minutes and don't offer anything new. The "Making of" featurette is 4-mintues long and contains some comments from the cast and crew (including Mel Gibson), but it's mostly made up of clips from the film. Finally, we have the trailer for Paparazzi, which is letterboxed at 1.85:1.
4 out of 10 Jackasses