Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 24 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Intense Violent Sequences, Sexual Content and Language
Directed by: Paul Abascal
Written by: Forry Smith
Starring: Cole Hauser, Robin Tunney, Tom Sizemore, Daniel Baldwin, Kevin Gage & Dennis Farina
Paparazzis are the scum of the earth. There’s no honor or dignity in making a profit off harassing celebrities in their personal life. With this issue more prevalent than ever before, one might think that a thriller centered around these privacy-invading assholes could make for a weighty film with a lot to say. 2004’s PAPARAZZI is definitely not that film. This box office bomb/critical flop feels like it belongs in the heyday of 70’s trashy exploitation cinema. It’s goofy, stupid, ridiculous, and over-the-top on every conceivable level. It’s really bad movie, but so damned bad that it’s unintentionally enjoyable for all the wrong reasons.
Bo Laramie is a fresh-faced action star who’s just struck it big. With this fame comes attention and with that attention comes the soul-sucking parasites known as paparazzi. When Rex Harper, a particularly nasty photographer, invades Bo’s personal space and receives a punch in the face as a result, Bo is arrested and forced to undergo anger management therapy. As if Bo’s situation couldn’t get any worse, Rex and his trio of nosy goons decide to stalk Bo and try tear his personal life apart. After their tactics go too far and result in a car accident that winds up putting Bo’s little boy in a coma, the newly recognized action movie star finds himself in a real-life thriller as he begins to take down these paparazzi scumbags one-by-one…much to the chagrin of an inept detective.
PAPARAZZI can probably be considered the most unintentionally hilarious thriller to follow the likes of 1997’s TURBULENCE. It’s a movie so baffling that it makes the viewer question who on Earth greenlit this project…turns out that was Mel Gibson. Gaps in logic are seen all over the place, which causes the entire movie to rely on the stupidity of pretty much every character to make it function. There’s Cole Hauser playing a protagonist who’s about as wooden and one-dimensional as you can get. By the time he becomes a secret Hollywood vigilante, the viewer finds themselves not fully rooting for Bo as he reveals himself to be a total lunatic. The paparazzi themselves are laughably bad, including a washed-up Tom Sizemore as the main villain who isn’t given nearly enough scenery to chew. The most egregious excuse for a character comes in the inept Detective Burton who can’t seem to tie his shoelaces without pondering over the process for five minutes. A huge plot “revelation” in the final third showcases how astoundingly stupid this detective is. It’s almost as if someone watched Lt. Frank Drebin in THE NAKED GUN trilogy and found him to be a serious character, so they wrote him into a thriller.
There are also nice little coincidences strewn throughout the script that help tie everything together with a nice little bow on top as well as minor moments that are plain hilarious. Why, after barely releasing an action movie, is Bo already filming the sequel to that film? Clearly, not enough time has passed to determine if that first movie was worthy of a franchise. Unless the film is based on superhero comics, I’m pretty sure that’s not how Hollywood works. This being said, PAPARAZZI is entertaining in an unintentionally hilarious B-flick sort of way. This would feel right at home in the 70’s alongside DEATH WISH and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. PAPARAZZI manages to be enjoyable in the “guilty pleasure” exploitation sense in spite of a PG-13 rating that doesn’t lend well to gratuitous violence.
Mark my words. PAPARAZZI is a bad movie. It’s astoundingly inept in its stupid plot. However, there’s a somewhat redeeming quality to be taken out of that. The dumbass characters, ranging from an unsympathetic lead to paparazzi scumbags to an unbelievably inept detective, get their fair share of laughs that surely weren’t intended. The plot is woven together through a series of dumb decisions and coincidences. It’s a bad movie, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t entertaining in a really stupid so-bad-it’s-good way.