Sunday, March 20, 2005

Pauly Shore is Dead
Review by Sombrero Grande

Pauly Shore is Dead, written, directed by and starring Pauly Montgomery Shore, starts out with the potential to be a funny send-up of the way Hollywood chews people up and spits them out; the way it uses, abuses and then loses those who at one time proved profitable. And who better to tell that story than Shore? What the film ends up being, as it goes on to overstay its welcome and stretch the premise threadbare, is little more than a desperate call to Hollywood, “PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SOMEONE HIRE ME!” Unfortunately, though the film’s plot tries to paint Shore as someone more than the goofy character he played on MTV and in his films, the film itself reveals him to be capable of little else.

There are some genuinely funny moments in Pauly Shore is Dead. One of my favorites was revealing that the first time Bill Maher realized he hated America was when he saw Shore’s sitcom. Cameos abound in Pauly Shore is Dead, though most are from the same people who’ll usually cameo in just about anything nowadays: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Paris Hilton, Verne Troyer, Whoopi Goldberg, Snoop Dogg, Britney Spears, Jerry Springer, etc. While some have some funny bits, like Maher and Charlie Sheen, others, like Tom Sizemore, were so poorly acted that it made me wonder how they ever got a gig in this town in the first place. After all, they’re here playing themselves, the roles they were “born to play.” At times it felt as though Shore tossed in footage of anyone he could get to sit in front of his camera for a few seconds, regardless of whether it was funny or even served a purpose in the film. Andy Dick, for instance, didn’t need to be in this film--or any film for that matter when you come right down to it.

Shore has the ability to craft some rather scathing self-deprecating humor in this low, low budget effort, but after a while it becomes too much--too obsessive. Anything involving Shore’s fictitious #1 fan and his trailer park family was embarrassing to watch. The third time we see Pauly curled up in a corner sobbing I began to wonder, “is this all this film has devolved into being?”

In Pauly Shore is Dead, Shore plays out the fantasy of what might happen if he faked his own death and then suddenly became known as a “comic genius who died before his time” instead of just a has-been who said “buuuuuud-dy” a lot. It could have been great as a short, but the film runs on too long, forgetting where it was going at some point but trudging on nonetheless.

The film’s greatest downfall is that it doesn’t take itself seriously. Shore sacrifices potential satire for cheap, easy gags, nearly all of which aren’t even worth their screen time. The interviews that follow the announcement of his “death” could have attempted to be more sincere or at least edited to appear so. The costume that he wore to hide his identity could have been better than a novelty mustache and beard. And instead of the film ending with him getting “Oscar buzz” for a new role opposite Sean Penn, it could have ended, oh, really any other way.

Watching Pauly Shore is Dead began as a nostalgic trip back to the early ‘90s and ended as the kind of made-for-TV movie you only watch when you’re sick, laying on the couch and don’t have the energy to reach for the remote. Pauly Shore is Dead ends up being one last gasp for Shore, the movie he made himself because no one else would put him in theirs, instead of the career defibrillator he obviously hoped it to be. Pauly Shore is Dead feels like a cathartic work, the kind where the writer tears himself down and then folds in a happy ending where he can play the hero. If Shore has worked out some personal issues in making this film, then good for him; I just wish the result was something that could have been ultimately enjoyed by other people as well.


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