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Paparazzi

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense violent sequences, sexual content and language

Reviewed by: Evan D. Baltz
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens and adults
Genre:
Thriller
Length:
1 hr. 25 min.
Year of Release:
2004
USA Release:
______
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Featuring: Cole Hauser, Robin Tunney, Dennis Farina, Tom Sizemore, Larry Cedar
Director: Paul Abascal
Producer: Bruce Davey, Mel Gibson, Stephen McEveety
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

“One good shot deserves another.”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “When an overzealous group of four paparazzi photographers cause a car accident that injures his wife (Tunney) and son, a hot young (and very angry) movie star named Bo Laramie (Hauser) concocts a revenge plot against them.”

What would it be like to live your life in a fish bowl? Ask your nearest professional athlete, politician, or movie star. They could probably tell you tales of how fame has its price. Usually the most significant fatality of fame is privacy. In the movie “Paparazzi” the fatalities are more of the flesh and blood type. Rumor has it that this movie was born out of actual Hollywood stars swapping their paparazzi horror stories, and producer Mel Gibson saying what a great revenge movie this would make. Great revenge, perhaps. Great movie, not so much.

Revenge it is. It is the motivation which drives many of the characters of the movie. Revenge and money. At first the drive for money inspires “photo journalist” Rex Harper (Tom Sizemore, “Dreamcatcher”) to get as many revealing photos of new Hollywood action star Bo Laramie (Cole Hauser, “2 Fast 2 Furious”). When Laramie protests the invasion of privacy at his son’s soccer game, Harper baits Laramie into punching him. Capturing it all on tape, Harper then sues Laramie for a good sum of money. But Harper wants more, he wants to ruin Laramie and his career.

Copyright, 20th Century Fox

One night after a social event Harper and his Paparazzi gang track down Laramie in his car and pursue him. Events get out of hand and a Princess Dianna-like tragedy occurs. Now the tables turn, and it is the violated actor who turns on the paparazzi who have wronged him and his family.

You can almost see the glee in the direction and the acting as this movie sticks it to the paparazzi of the world. Director Paul Abascal, Mel Gibson’s former hair stylist from the “Lethal Weapon” era movies, now styles in film. The plot is fairly simplistic and predictable, and the script sometimes corny. It’s basically shampoo, rinse, repeat. The actors seem to be winking at the audience from time to time as they get in their jabs at their most hated foes. Each incident reminds us of actual events which have happened to Hollywood’s elite. There are even brief comical cameos in the film by Gibson himself, Chris Rock, and Matthew McConaughey.

As the plot unfolds, local cop Detective Burton (Dennis Farina, Stealing Harvard) attempts to discover to what extent crimes are being committed. The lines between right and wrong are often blurred when dealing with movie stars and paparazzi. Whose side do you take? Do you think if someone chooses a life of fame that they therefore naturally must give up their privacy? Is that the price for fame? Do paparazzi serve a purpose? Are they just feeding the beast, the public, which craves the dirt on their stars? The movie audience seemed to side heavily with the movie stars, in that every time something bad happens to paparazzi in the movie, the audience applauded. I haven’t seen that happen too many times. Gibson and his fellow movie stars will probably be happy to know their adoring fans side with them and enjoy this revenge film.

My guess is those on the outside looking in, won’t like this film. Of course “photo journalists” and reporters, and even some movie critics, may balk at stars getting even with them, and take it out on this film. But, the movie is entertaining and I took it as being presented somewhat with tongue in cheek. On that level it works. And at just one hour and twenty minutes running time (neatly trimmed by Abascal), it was over before I had too much time to complain or get bored. There were about 20 usages of foul language in the film. The Lord’s name was taken in vain on two occasions. There was no nudity or sex.

If you side with the movie stars, and famous people in general, you will no doubt secretly enjoy this film. The movie also may enlighten those who purchase tabloid magazines. Your checkout aisle expenditure puts money into the pockets of the paparazzi. Think about that next time before you drop one in your shopping cart.

The way to stop the paparazzi is to reduce demand for their services. Not exactly the approach the fictional star of this movie attempts when handling the situation. But we do sympathize with him.

Is revenge ever justified? Paul says in Romans 12:19, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for the God’s wrath, for it is written, “It is mine to avenge; I will replay,” says the Lord.” And in fact, the Psalmist prays for God’s revenge in Psalm 94:1. Do you think it is tough to be patient and wait for that? Is it hard to forgive? Perhaps check out Mel Gibson’s previous production “The Passion of the Christ” for more insight.

So, the next time you find yourself wondering if Julie Roberts is pregnant, or who J-Lo (Jennifer Lopez) is dating/marrying now, perhaps turn your thoughts to something a little loftier. And, leave justice to the police, and revenge to God, and be thankful most of your life, like mine, will be lived in blissful anonymity.

Grade: C+

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: None

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—…Given that Mel Gibson partially produced this film I thought that it was going to be morally correct. The whole movie revolved around the character’s revenge for the crash that his family was involved in, due to the paparazzi. The main character did no have any remorse throughout the whole movie, and he was supposed to be a good person with a nice family.The movie condoned revenge making it seem as if what he did was totally okay. The police even let him get away with cold-blooded murder.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
—Jannet, age 47
Neutral—Well, here is an interesting follow up by the producer of the Passion of Christ. Image is everything, an idolatrous obsession that feeds on our worship and devotion. Unfortunately, the paparazzi prowls around like a roaring lion looking to devour this image. Along comes a savior. Bo Laramie becomes the new law to avenge himself and his family. Through this story we learn that the law has no teeth and sometimes there is a need to allow a murderous self-righteous anger to prevail. The hero is overwhelmed with a great satisfaction that blood has been shed and is even rewarded by his son being miraculously healed. In the end the image is again respected and worshiped by all.
My Ratings: [Average/2½]
—Terry Klassen, age 48
Neutral—This was an alright movie if your bored. There is some language and violence, which is mostly in a “revengeful” nature, which of course is not right. Although, it make me glad I’m not in the spot light as the characters are. I can understand how difficult it must be to have any privacy at all for celebrities and their families. There are some cameo’s of some celebs, including Mel which was neat. Overall, it was an okay movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Kriss, age 23
Positive—I thought this movie was pretty good overall. Good action, no nudity or sex, although there is a quick scene of a night club with female dancers, they are dressed, in at least bikini type outfits, the camera did not focus on them, it was a fairly quick panning of the camera around the club until it focused on the Paparazzi’s themselves. There is some cussing and taking the Lord’s name in vain, but it was not to heavy. The main character was a rising movie star who basically wanted to keep his family out of the limelight but these Paparazzi wouldn’t do that. We saw some of the underhanded ways these freelance photographers would do to make a buck. Overall, I give this movie a better than average rating.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Jeff Gerfen, age 48

Comments from young people
Neutral—The movie is really just an average flick for this type of genre, nothing out of the ordinary at all. The acting wasn’t all that great, which is an offshoot of a corny script (which the reviewer noted as well), and the plot… though somewhat original, failed to entertain all the way through. The special effects… well… that’s why my movie ranking is just AVERAGE. But again, to reiterate what the Christian Answers Reviewer said, there is not all that much objectionable content in this film. Bottom-line: If this was all Mel Gibson could produce as a follow-up to his blockbuster “The Passion” then he should have stuck with counting his dollars from that awesome movie.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Sam Van Eerden, age 15
Positive—I think it was a pretty good movie. There was one very brief scene where they were in a Strip Bar But they didn’t show anything, Also there were a couple of mild bad words at the beginning, but as the movie goes on you forget about it. You will really enjoy this movie if you are from Montana!…
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Bridget, age 11
Movie Critics
…the film’s moral is a dangerous one in our already violent society…
—Adam R. Holz, Plugged In
…laughably heavy-handed and violent melodrama…
—Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune