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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Paparazzi
Fox // PG-13 // January 11, 2005
List Price: $27.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Matthew Millheiser | posted December 27, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

Paparazzi. Well, I'm not going to waste too much time reviewing this movie, as the promos and trailers not only deliver pretty much the entire plot of the film, but also contain just as much depth, subtlety, and nuance in 30 seconds as this movie delivers in 90 minutes or so. And the beautiful thing about the trailers is that they're over really quickly, and you're free to move on to more endearing or insightful pursuits. Like cross-country yodeling, for instance, or full-contact Parcheesi or Strip Yahtzee.

Anyway: Paparazzi. The film stars Cole Hauser as Bo Laramie (!), an action-movie actor who overnight finds himself thrust into the Hollywood A-League. Bo, his wife Abby (Robin Tunney, whose large eyes and pouty lips could melt a diamond in a snowstorm, thank you very much), and his son Zach (Blake Bryan), are hysterically and unbelievably presented as a small-town, sweet-hearted nuclear unit from Minnesota who have been suddenly thrust into the topsy-turvy world of crummy Hollywood shenanigans. You see, with one blockbuster film Bo is a smash sensation, and naturally the subject of interest for a bevy paparazzi photographers. One particular paparazzo, the vile and conniving Rex Harper (Tom Sizemore), has got the paparazzi game down to a science. He follows the family to snap photos of young Zach's soccer match. Bo notices this, and asks Rex to lay off the kid. Rex agrees, but soon afterwards he's back taking pictures of the kid. Bo decks him, only to find that the scene was staged: Rex's compadres were staked out in a van and captured the entire assault on video and film. Bo gets sued, and the entire scene gets replayed on tabloid television across the country.

Rex never gets his requested "public apology" as part of his settlement, and this just drives him into a rage. He and has partners turn up the harassment on Laramie and his family: the stalking and photographs continue up to a critical point in which one night, in which they follow the Laramies on the road, snapping flash photographs while a blinded Bo is trying to maintain control of the car. This results in a nasty crash with another car, in which Abby is seriously injured and Zach is left fighting for his life in the hospital. This drives Bo to the breaking point, and he engages in an elaborate, no-holds-barred, the-kid-gloves-are-off, I'll-be-tickling-your-tonsils-with-my-toes revenge plot.

If this film was made 15 years ago, it would have been produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, and would have starred Michael Dudikoff as the hero and the dude who played the Russian terrorist leader in Chuck Norris's Invasion U.S.A. as the evil paparazzo. I miss Golan-Globus and Cannon films. They made films so obviously and unapologetically crappy, without a hint of indignant self-importance, that they almost transcended their inherent craptacularities and endeared themselves into pop culture nostalgia. Almost, that is. I saw those Lou Ferigno Hercules films. Good God.

My point, of course, is that
Paparazzi is a crappy, crappy movie, yet another dull and plodding revenge flick in a genre that has been saturated with the like for decades on end. The entire affair feels like some Z-level production you might find on non-premium cable at 3-in-the-morning on a school night. The film is successful in that it presents Bo Laramie as The Good Guy and Rex Harper as The Bad Guy, making it easy to determine who to root for and against. One can't ignore the feeling that there are a ton of scummy, shameless photographers whose hunt to get those big-money shots venture deep into an invasive, disgusting realm, and these people should only be disemboweled by wolves. And yet there are hundreds of celebrities whose entire career hinges upon public exposure, especially when they lack any inherent talent to justify the ridiculous amount of attention they receive. You can't have it both ways.



Paparazzi is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and has been anamorphically-enhanced for your widescreen-viewing pleasure (a fullscreen version is also included on this DVD, but if you're considering watching a non-OAR version then you shouldn't even bother with this portion of the review.) The picture is generally decent, with deep contrast levels, rich colors, and reasonable image detail. The transfer does seem to be excessively bright, although this appears to be an aesthetic choice rather than a flaw. Compression noise is minimal. A little edge-enhancement is noticeable, but overall this is a solid and pleasing transfer.


The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, and presents a generally acceptable audio experience. There is ample use of surrounds and LFE, although imaging isn't quite as discrete and pinpoint as one would hope. There is some directionality in the frontstage and some solid range to the score, as well as brightness and clarity in dialog. Immersion is thick and broad rather than smooth and integrated, resulting in a soundtrack which is acceptable and solid rather than aggressively engaging.


Fox put together some rather solid extras for this title. We start off with an audio commentary by first-time director Paul Abascal. Abascal's commentary does have a few silent spots but overall he talks quite candidly and probingly about his film. There are three deleted scenes, with optional commentary by Abascal. None of them would have made the film flow any better, and were reasonably cut from the final version. A four-minute making-of featurette is a predictably basic and somewhat lightweight behind-the-scenes look at the film. More interesting is the nine-minute featurette entitled The Stunts of Paparazzi, in which see storyboards, interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage featuring the various people who created some of the film's stunts. Winding up the special features is the film's theatrical trailer.

Final Thoughts:

You know, Paparazzi was produced by Mel Gibson and was Icon Production's theatrical follow-up to The Passion of the Christ. Two more disparate films, I cannot even begin to imagine. All I can say - and I swear to God, this is 100% true - is that, while I was watching this movie, my cat jumped up on my desk, got sick, and vomited all over the movie's DVD case. A more spot-on criticism, I wouldn't be able to deliver. Paparazzi is a terrible movie. The DVD, on the other hand, is pretty decent. The presentation of the source material is pretty good, and the extras are better than what one would expect. I'm giving the film a Rent It rating on the basis of the quality of the DVD, not the movie. If you're curious, give it a shot. Then run away. Run away screaming, I tell you. End communication.

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