Pauly Shore is Dead Review
Take a look at the cast list on your left. What do you see? A bloody great list of A-D list celebrities, that's what. Just how did Pauly Shore assemble a cast of such epic proportions? Well he spent five years of his life working on a film in which he wanted to have his say; a way of acknowledging his past failures and above all pleading to America not to hate him, but to love him as someone who just wants to be an actor/comedian, and not be constantly lambasted for the performance that garnered him fame in the first place. "The Wiez" made a film but the question that begs hereafter is "Is it any good and does Pauly do himself justice"?
I've seen California Man and if memory serves me correctly it wasn't half bad, in fact Pauly even came away from it unscathed. I dared to watch In the Army Now and sat through Jury Duty and even Bio-Dome. After that Shore attempted a career in television land, where he landed a six episode sitcom, simply entitled Pauly. And that my friends was the final blow - Pauly Shore suddenly fell into obscurity from which he never gracefully returned. Some would say every one of his films are universally bad; it's true in most cases, whether or not they reflect just how funny or not Pauly Shore is would be another thing. Since his MTV days playing "Weasel", Pauly seemed to get typecast an awful lot, playing the same stoner character that won him fame and while not to everyone's taste he must have been doing something right. Right? Well, that's forever debatable I suppose, but let's try and look beyond what he's done in the past shall we.
So, five years in the making and what we have here is a film that sees Pauly despondent by people's lack of enthusiasm toward him and his films. After being visited by the ghost of his good friend, Sam (the prematurely departed Sam Kinison) who tells him he'll only find fame in death, Pauly takes it upon himself to do just that - he fakes his own death. In turn Pauly finds that he is indeed thought of more highly than he was when alive and proceeds to laugh at the genius of his plan, whilst trotting around Los Angeles in disguise. Cue a series of vignettes starring a horde of Hollywood celebrities, all ready to praise Shore, but just as the world learns of his faked departure everyone's love soon turns to hatred. Pauly Shore comes full circle to being ridiculed once more, but can he win the hearts of America in the end? Only in the movies…
There's something kinda sad about Pauly Shore is Dead, as if anyone was meant to care before or after this curious little piece of self abusive yet vanity induced satire. What are we to learn from watching this film? Shore is perhaps the unlikeliest of comedians to have a film document his rise to stardom and fall from grace, and it's a wonder why he expects his audience to respond positively to the outcome. There is something so very strange and surreal to the idea that one can't help but be somewhat curious as to how it would all play out. I don't belong in the Pauly Shore hate camp, I never have detested him for not making me laugh profusely but I do believe that there is some good material within him - unfortunately it isn't always with him here; try as it might to raise uproarious laughter, it merely gets away with a few chuckles. The premise might have been even better had it not been so self indulgent and desperate to market itself by gathering all these famous faces. Indeed there are fine comic moments that range from Shore and his friend Kirk Fox getting pelted by Oranges, courtesy of Gerardo Mejia; trying to pay a prostitute with $84 (until he gets his arse out which is obligatory in all his films for some juvenile reason), to getting down with his new prison mates (where the bad language makes it funnier) and strangest of all, yet perhaps most effectively when he continually asks his celebrity friends if there are any parts for him in their latest projects. Yes, Pauly Shore is Dead is not without merit.
Furthermore what really makes the film is the D-list celebrities themselves. Not to be disrespectful as I have been fans of some of them myself, but these days they are labelled as such and these are often harsh times. But continuing on, these people lift the film above the norm. Forget Britney Spears and Ben Stiller making cameos that aren't even that funny; the real meat lies behind the likes of Todd Bridges who never escaped his character Willis from TV's Different Strokes, but has enjoyed continuing success on television. Also we have Charlie Sheen, a fellow "notorious" actor who drops by to offer pearls of wisdom and even Corey Feldman appears as a drug pusher. Sometimes it's great to see once Hollywood alumni lampoon themselves for the sake of entertainment. Other times it's embarrassing and that's what the film borders on all too often. Above all else, who is responsible for this laborious mess? Pauly Shore himself, directing of course.
Sadly and of further deterrence to its premise is that every celebrity involved is evidently in on the gag. Shore doesn't take that drastic risk in really faking his own death to provide some kind of perverted reality documentary. Instead of what could have been sickening shock reactions that would get him banished from America he goes for the softer, wimpier approach, writing some truly banal dialogue and having Hollywood's talent pool regurgitate them. Placing himself in the front of the action he manages to do a pretty decent job at recreating his life in Hollywood - real or faux? You the viewer can decide, though Shore does state that a lot of it is based on true events. As much as I didn't think I would, I actually found myself laughing whenever he dressed up like some bearded moron and skipped through town, checking into hotels and making stupid sounds. So ridicule me too I guess. There's the occasional glimmer of hope that forces you to ponder if he does have that certain comic genius had it been put to better use. Nobody wants to see a film like this from someone already considered washed up. We want to see new material, something fresh, and if what Pauly wants for us to do is simply love him then he should earn our respect and make people proud of his achievements. He has plenty of time left to show America what he's made of.
I really wanted to like this so much more but in the end it's nothing more than a desperate plea to America (and America only it would seem) for it to change its mind about Pauly and love him as an actor, in what is an occasionally choppily edited film that suffers by the hands of a man who can't decide what he wants (as the deleted scenes will tell). Truth is that Pauly had it easy. He grew up in The Comedy Store - his mother's famous training ground that was surrounded by some of the greatest comedians that the world had ever seen. He learned from them but this obviously wasn't enough. He could have been a genius, he might even have topped the world for a moment, but he fell before he could peak. He outstayed his welcome with his oddball stoner brand of repetitive humour, allowing himself to become a victim of The Weasel's Curse and fail where Adam Sandler succeeded (who coincidently makes a voice cameo). The worst thing of all is that the very man who tears into Hollywood and blames it for his downfall throughout most of the running time turns around at the end and says he loves it - how contradictory can one film get? Pauly Shore is Dead - well his career has been for a long time but with some future projects lined up things might turn around for him. We'll just have to wait and see.
The film may not be great but let that not stop Pauly from conjuring up a bag of extra features that beef up this release more than it probably deserves. The disc itself is double sided, containing the wide screen presentation on side A and full screen on side B.
Shot digitally in 1.78:1 the film is presented here anamorphically and it looks very good. Flesh tones are spot on and LA's cityscape is colourful and presented in fine detail. The choice of shooting on digital is obviously a budgetary one as Pauly had to raise funds practically by himself and make some phone calls here and there but it was a good choice to go with and overall you won't find many detracting factors.
We have an English 5.1 track which seems as over the top as Shore's ego at times but with that said it does sound very good. Dialogue (of which there's plenty) is very clear and the music throughout is separated well for what is otherwise an extremely small film. It won't blow the roof off of your house - but then what film actually does?
Audio Commentary with Pauly Shore
Pauly Shore isn't exactly the greatest commentator. All too often he'll sit there praising his own work, mentioning every scene as being great or interesting. It's all a bit too much of an ego trip for my liking and there really is little of substance; he doesn't even go into any great detail as to why he made the film just that it's the best thing he's ever done, for which he's proud of. I'm more interested to know what he said about Tommy Chong in the commentary though, because as soon as he appears onscreen Pauly's voice goes dead for the duration, until the next guest shows up. Considering he never lets up for a second something sinister must be afoot…
Celebrity Host Wraps with Eminem and Proof
First things out of the way first, why is Eminem and Proof even here? They're not even in the movie and yet Pauly has managed to get them to introduce footage that is in itself introduced by other celebs. They clearly have no idea what they're introducing and it appears that they haven't even seen the film, although at the end Eminem does say it sucked, to which Pauly replies "Yea it kinda did" in a joking way. These last for 10-20 seconds before each main piece.
Deleted Scenes Hosted by Pauly Shore and the Hilton Sisters (15.21)
Pauly introduces the first batch of deleted scenes, with the help of Nicky and Paris who manage to get through the ordeal without getting into any trouble. These scenes are absolutely awful and embarrassing, filled with grade A bad acting that doesn't quite reach this level of badness in the final cut. First up Pauly introduces a brief scene that Tom Sizemore later took the part for. Next up he mentions how they had to use look-a-like talk show hosts for some scenes but when the real ones were made available he cut this footage out. So gone is the old Jerry Springer and Dicky Cake (Ricky Lake) and in are the real deal, including Montel Williams in the actual feature. Next up Pauly gives us one of the most horrendous scenes I've ever witnessed, which stars his father and brother - thank you for cutting this out Pauly. Dexter from The Offspring also has a cut scene, surprisingly (since they're huge) the Hilton's have never heard of them but then they're not exactly too sharp for the whole duration of this segment which continues to churn out some real doozies.
Deleted Scenes Hosted by Pauly Shore and Charlie Sheen (12.24)
Pauly hooks up with the Sheen to introduce a selection of scenes, of which some are criminally cut. Charlie kids around and basically agrees with whatever Pauly says or praises every one of the deleted scenes. He looks a little uncomfortable being there at times and doesn't really know half of the celebs that Pauly is talking about but he manages to make it through okay. Pauly talks about pacing mainly, which is the reason behind cutting. That would make more sense than the previous piece he hosts as some of these are genuinely funny. These funniest moments include a scene where Pauly visits a bar where Nina Blackwood works who he refers to as the Chrissie of MTV. Here he ends up striking a conversation about Three's Company and how Janet was attractive but Chrissie was the one that everybody wanted to fuck. The only other real funny moment is during a scene where Pauly in his perverted "Uni Bomber" type guise starts hitting on the girlfriend of Godsmack lead singer, Sully Erna, who quickly gets around to beating him up.
Stained Aaron Lewis song with Pauly "It's Been a While" (3.41)
This is an enjoyable feature with Stained's lead singer performing a popular song of theirs, which is suddenly changed half way through to accommodate lyrics about how unfunny Pauly Shore is. Pauly naturally gets pissed over it and slates Aaron Lewis before storming out of frame.
Making my Movie (16.40)
At times this is quite interesting, if only to inspire other film makers. Pauly talks about how he had to fund the film himself and hunt down investors. Here we get some documented footage which includes Pauly going to Las Vegas where he doesn't have much luck, although he's damn close to getting two prostitutes to hand over $25,000 each and even tries to get Dr. Dre to offer $75,000. There's a decent moment where he tries to convince a line-up of beautiful women about to enter a bikini contest to invest their $10,000 if they come first in the contest.
Interrogating the Wiez (14.42)
Pauly answers questions thrown at him after the showing of his movie. There are moments which raise a smile and a lot where Pauly tries to be serious as he talks about making his film. He does offer words of wisdom and speaks a lot of truth even if it's not particularly helpful because Hollywood is naturally a tough place to get into and unless you have sheer determination and a lot of luck then you may not get far, hence why Pauly made the film with his own finances. He also talks about wanting to do more serious roles and why he made this film but for all the conversation and justifying it still doesn't make it any better. Some of the questions are just plain stupid and I never understand why people ask Pauly to do some of his quotes as they're never funny and neither does it take talent to pull them off. This is the kind of thing he has to let go of in future.
It's a shame this couldn't have been a better, as in the end there's not a whole lot to recommend. I give Pauly Shore some credit for carrying this all the way through - five years is a long time but the end result just doesn't reflect the years of sweat and blood. It's as mixed as a bag of broken biscuits - an expensive one that is, so save some cash and rent it instead and buy a bag of real broken biscuits, they retail for around £1 if I remember correctly. You may be surprised or you may be horrified. Though as an extra warning unless you are overly familiar with American comedy and its famous stand ups you may find yourselves alienated by a lot of the humour on display. The film requires a decent knowledge of this to get the fullest enjoyment out of it, though in all honesty there isn't much left.
4 out of 10
7 out of 10
8 out of 10
7 out of 10