Review: Paparazzi

Rising action-star Cole Hauser is targeted by a quartet of sleazy paparazzos (Tom Sizemore, Daniel Baldwin, Kevin Gage, and token British prat Tom Hollander) whose constant interference causes great distress and eventually physical harm to Hauser’s young family (wife Robin Tunney and a cute but vanilla kid). As a result, Hauser (attending Anger Management after punching Sizemore for taking snaps of his kid after being asked quite reasonably and nicely by Hauser to cease and desist) snaps and gets all righteous on their asses. Dennis Farina plays the sympathetic but quietly alarmed detective who does his best to help out Hauser and family.

Watered-down exploitation (a lot of the violence is implied or off-screen!) from producer Mel Gibson and hair stylist-turned filmmaker (!) Paul Abascal, this 2004 revenge thriller seems to be Gibson’s big ‘Fuck You!’ to the (understandably) much hated paparazzi, the bottom-feeders of the entertainment industry (and possibly the human race). Unfortunately, not only is it highly unlikely (the characters played by Sizemore and Farina behave in a pretty moronic manner), but it has neither the balls to deliver a nasty grind-house classic (it’s rated PG-13 in the US and the only thing close to bad taste is a Diana-esque car crash, which isn’t very believably done, unfortunately. And heck, some of the deaths dished out could damn well be argued as accidents and are wimpy to say the least) nor the sense of humour to work as an amusing little dig at the paparazzi.

A shame, because not only is the subject worthy of being dealt with in either manner, and Hauser a decent enough lead (he makes for as normal a guy as possible when you’re cast as an action movie star), but it has the ultimate in sleazebag villainy casting- including a Baldwin brother (the fat, drug-abusing one, no less) for the added bonus of an in-joke (And if you don’t know what in-joke I’m referring to, then this film will have even less of an impact on you).

Somewhat watchable when the quartet of scumbags are on show (three of whom have had problems with the law in real life, by the way), but even then, the actors are a bit wasted (in whatever usage of the term you wish to apply!), the underrated Gage (unforgettable as long-haired Waingro from “Heat”, a film which also gave Sizemore one of his best roles) especially. Celebrity cameos add zilch (Chris Rock as a pizza delivery man is especially unnecessary and inexplicable), though Gibson’s walk-on might’ve been fun if it were extended to a speaking role (Hi, I’m Mel and I’m an Anti-Semitic Rageaholic!’). Amusingly, the film wasn’t screened for critics in the US…guess they didn’t want the publicity

Rating: C


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