Movies — Paparazzi (R)

Mel Gibson has some serious problems with having his picture taken and gets out all that being-famous-sucks aggression in the angry, incoherent screed of Paparazzi.

Or maybe itís not Mel Gibson. After all, heís only one of three producers listed in the credits and his only on-screen presence is in a dialogue-less cameo. But he showed such a ham-fisted approach to movie-making with The Passion of the Christ that I feel perfectly justified in blaming him for the one-dimensional, after-school-special-like approach to storytelling and character displayed in this should-have-been-direct-to-video revenge fantasy.

Bo Laramie (Cole Hauser), whose name is so contrived itís practically Dickensian, is the hot new action star. A Montana native, however, he takes all this limelight with a folksy grain of salt and keeps on being a faithful husband to teacher wife Abby (Robin Tunney) and just the best dad ever to his son Zach (Blake Bryan). Of course this all changes when heís set on by a pack of wild snarling paparazzi. Their leader is a teeth-gnashing Rex Harper (Tom Sizemore, yelling every single one of his hackneyed lines) who vows to destroy Laramieís life after the actor punches him for taking pictures of his son at a soccer game.

Rex and his boys (including an amazingly scuzzy Daniel Baldwin) never leave Bo alone, picking on his wife and eventually storming the car, Princess-Di-style, causing a car accident that seriously injuries Boís wife and son.

Though heís been ordered into anger management therapy (where a female therapist rather maturely tells him that he will have to modify his behavior to better deal with this strange new world of fame and celebrity; naturally he disregards this woman and her silly liberal ideas about thinkiní and adjusting), the accident pushes Bo too far. Admittedly given plenty of reason for uncontrollable rage, Bo channels this by killing, one by one, the hyena-like paparazzi.

If The Day After Tomorrow was a blue state I-told-you-so, Paparazzi is a red state strikes-back. In the disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow, a doofy president and his heartless vice president allow concerns about the car industry to override a greenhouse effect that results in the creation of a new ice age. In Paparazzi, the villains use the first amendment to pester a hard-working family man. (Damned ACLU was behind the whole thing, Iíll betcha.) What choice does a Montana-bred boy have but to commit a handful of murders in an act of calculated vigilante justice? (Never mind that the message here is that celebrities should be allowed to get away with murder in exchange for all the wonderful action movies they provide us.)

So, what, the Wal-Marts in middle America donít have any copies of People? The HEBs and Piggly Wigglys and Albertsons of the red states donít sell any copies of The Star, National Enquirer or The Globe?

It doesnít surprise me that celebrities (who, letís face it, make a whole lot of money doing not the hardest job ever) hate the publicity they canít control. The only real surprise in this movie is that someone as sees-every-angle as Chris Rock would show his apparent support by doing his own cameo.

- Amy Diaz

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