Pauly Shore Is Dead

Pauly Shore Is Dead

Directed by Pauly Shore. Starring Pauly Shore, Kirk Fox, W. Earl Brown, Ben Stiller, Sean Penn, Fred Durst, Tom Sizemore, Carrot Top, Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres, Kurt Loder, Chris Rock, Verne Troyer, Todd Bridges, Heidi Fleiss, Tommy Lee, Vince Vaughn. (2004, NR, 83 min.)

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Oct. 22, 2004

Born and bred L.A. narcissist Pauly Shore turns auteur for this comedy film outing which, in addition to starring in, he also directs and receives screenwriting credit (along with pal Kirk Fox). It’s pure Pauly all the way, even though the movie seeks to soften Shore’s obnoxious Wiezel persona and show us the more human side of the comedian/actor – a side that suffers and hurts like all the rest of us slobs. One of the earlier titles of this long-gestating film was You’ll Never Wiez in This Town Again, which is the title it bore when it screened at SXSW 2003. The movie’s premise has Shore faking his own death – an idea he got from his guardian angel Sam Kinison, who appears to Pauly in his darkest hour of need (his career is in shambles, he has no professional representation, his favorite porn tape eaten by the VCR, etc.). Kinison poses the question: Do you want to be a dead genius or a living idiot? The answer to Pauly is obvious, so he creates a none-too-elaborate ruse to fake his own death. The plan works well as the media rushes to celebrate Shore’s brilliance, lamenting the talent that was cut short too soon, but eventually he is found out and becomes the country’s most hated con artist and is sent to prison for his crimes. There he learns to cope from cell mate Todd Bridges, while a crazed hillbilly (Brown), who is Shore’s No. 1 fan and who feels spurned by the ruse, travels from Paducah to Shore’s Hollywood jail to settle the score. All throughout, Pauly Shore Is Dead is lined with star cameos, which says something for Shore’s continuing popularity with the Hollywood set. He seeks career advise from old school chum Sean Penn and hits up everyone he sees for parts in their next movie. The cast is a veritable who’s who of Hollywood’s partying Nineties, with added cameos from the likes of the Hilton sisters and Snoop Dogg cementing its contemporary celebrity cachet. Although I’m not fully buying this kinder, gentler Pauly Shore (it’s just as much a manufactured persona as the Wiezel ever was, and for that matter, I’m not certain the Wiezel is really dead), the movie is actually amusing in turns – mostly as the various stars riff on their admiration for the late Pauly Shore. Unfortunately, the technical aspects of the movie make it look like it’s spent time locked in a casket gathering moss. It’s rough to watch at points, with lighting, framing, and continuity rather aimless, and no noticeable cinematographer listed in the credits. It will probably matter only slightly to Shore’s fans, but this patchy film will hardly deliver Shore the crossover breakout he so sorely desires nor the admiration due a talented film auteur. (Pauly Shore will be in attendance at the Tuesday and Wednesday screenings.)

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