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Movie Review: Paparazzi

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Any movie that is not screened for critics on it’s week of release is a good sign that the movie is no good. There are exceptions, although none are springing to mind, but occasionally the studio doesn’t want any surprises to be revealed prior to the public getting their first crack at it. Sadly, this falls under the first description.

The movie doesn’t waste any time, jumping right into the fray. Bo Laramie is attending the premiere of his first big time acting role, this is a new experience for him, so is putting up with the flashing cameras along the red carpet. This isn’t a problem until a paparazzi, Rex Harper, is seen taking pictures of Laramie’s son at a soccer game. After asking him to stop, he doesn’t, so Bo punches Rex and the feud is on. All sorts of pictures start appearing in the tabloids. Harper and his cohorts set out to make Laramie’s life a living hell. Then an accident happens, due to the interference of the paparazzi. This is when Laramie takes the law into his own hands and starts tracking down the paparazzi.

It is a rather straightforward tale, reminded me a lot of the old revenge flicks from the 70’s. The difference here is that it is given a Hollywood sheen, betraying it’s low budget, horror based roots. I like the idea, but there wasn’t enough meat here. There was tragedy, but it wasn’t enough, it needed to be something worse, something so awful that the only way to get retribution was to hunt down the bad guys. We get the hunting and the sneaking around the cops, the intricate revenge setups, but it wasn’t enough. They needed to go farther over the top, this one played it way too safe.

The acting was decent, when taken individually. I liked Cole Hauser as Bo Laramie, he reminds me of a younger Clancy Brown for some reason. He has good presence onscreen, I wouldn’t mind seeing him get a shot at a bigger action vehicle. Here, he is betrayed by a weak script. He does what he can, but it isn’t enough to raise the film above mediocrity. Tom Sizemore portrays Rex Harper, the primary adversary. He’s very good at playing a scum, somehow it seems like there might be a lot of him in this role. It’s pretty much a one note performance, but he plays it so well that you will truly despise this guy, and for that he is the strongest character in the movie. Robin Tunney plays Hauser’s wife, she doesn’t have much to do except play the doting wife, look sad, and scream when needed. Kind of sad, she’s a better actress than this. Daniel Baldwin is here as well, playing one of Sizemore’s cronies. Rounding out the main cast is Dennis Farina as Detective Burton, who plays a good LA detective, but never seems to do much except act as a roadblock to Laramie’s movements.

The idea is a good one, but it doesn’t get developed enough in it’s brief 82 minute runtime. It may become more well known as the first film that Mel Gibson was involved with since The Passion of the Christ. He filled the role of producer and made a brief cameo in the film. Which brings me to another point, there are a bunch of celebrity cameos, some playing themselves, others with their own characters.

It was directed by Paul Abascal, whose previous work was as a hair stylist and a director of many series TV episodes. He does a decent job here, the real problem, again, is with the poor script development. If they had decided to take it all the way we could have had an interesting revenge film.

The best thing about this movie was the trailer, I thought it was excellent. It was a closeup of a camera, but you can’t really tell what it is as the voiceover describes it. The thing is, the description sounds as if he is referring to a gun, then it pulls back and is revealed as a camera in the hands of a paprazzi. Brilliant, it’s a shame the movie wasn’t.

Bottomline. It was an OK film, but could have been so much more. The cameos were fun, as I was not expecting them at all. Hauser was good as the star, Sizemore better as the adversary. I’d have a hard time giving this a recommendation, but it may make a decent rental down the line.
Not Recommended.

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