Saturday, September 4, 2004

Reel To Reel:

How It Rates: *1/2
Starring: Cole Hauser, Tom Sizemore, Robin Tunney
Rated: PG-13
Red Flags: Language, Violence, Some Implied Sex

Preconceived Notions: An actor gets revenge on photo-stalker. Sounds like Sean Penn's dream.
The Bottom Line: Not a pretty picture.

Maybe a picture tells a thousand words, as that old saw goes, but just one will describe Paparazzi: melodrama -- as defined by, as, "a drama, such as a play, film, or television program, characterized by exaggerated emotions, stereotypical characters, and interpersonal conflicts."

Something's wrong when a dictionary definition nails a review before I've even scratched the surface. And I get this feeling when I hear voiceover narration from the principal character in the opening moments of the picture -- only to never hear it again. That's two strikes right there.

Paparazzi is the dumbed-down, amped-up story of photographers stalking action star Bo Laramie (Hauser), a likable guy with an Aussie accent who's just hit the Hollywood big time with a picture called "Lethal Force." Remind you of anybody? Should I mention Mel Gibson is one of this film's producers?

Laramie has just moved into a nice home in Malibu off the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway for those of you who've never been to Southern California, and good grief, is it gorgeous) with a nice wife and a nice little boy. Only some big, bad, mean guys with cameras can't leave him alone. Laramie asks one of them to stop taking pictures of his boy at soccer practice, and he does -- for about 60 seconds. Laramie confronts the guy again, and this time, does a Sean Penn -- which is all caught on film of course.

For reasons I don't understand -- or maybe I should because this is Hollywood -- the situation drains from mere incomprehenability to inconceiveable insanity as a gang of paparazzi chase Laramie and his family in their car, a la Princess Di, leading to an accident which puts his son in a coma. Now this Mel Gibson clone is gonna have his "Payback."

But wait, these guys just can't stop taking pictures -- even putting tiny video cameras in Laramie's home so they can keep an eye on whether he's after them. Oooookaaaaay. As long as you're going to put cameras around your own domiciles -- or your back, too.

Paparazzi would be likable if were simply believable. It's actually listed as "comedy, drama" in Fandago's description. Remind me where I was supposted to laugh. Was it that accident chase scene? Was it where the guy was feeling up Laramie's wife as she lay unconcious? Was it all those shots of sleazy magazine covers? Maybe I should ask Mel.

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