ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Paparazzi (2004)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Paul Abascal

Starring:
Cole Hauser/Bo Laramie
Robin Tunney/Abbie
Tom Sizemore/Rex
Dennis Farina/Det. Burton
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Actor Bo Laramie (Hauser) has just reached superstardom via his new hit action film "Adrenaline Force". All is well, until a group of shameless paparazzi push him too far causing severe harm to his family in the process. What’s an old fashioned. "tough guy" to do? You guessed it…KICK THAT ASS!
THE LOWDOWN

"My problems already have faces, Dr. Kelly" - Bo Laramie

Throughout my sit down with "Paparazzi", three words popped in my head the whole way:

Fun: (n.) A source of enjoyment, amusement, or pleasure.

F*cking: (v.) Vulgar Slang To have sexual intercourse with.

Times: (n.) Used to indicate the number of instances by which something is multiplied or divided.

This was one of those rare sit-downs of the year where I actually had a genuine blast at the movies. I was smiling, I was laughing and I was rooting for the good guy….yes, I was into it! In my book...that feeling is pure gold and it compensated for any “on paper” boo-boos which this film might've sported! GRACIAS! Produced by Mel Gibson’s “Icon Pictures”, it’s not hard to imagine that this project must have been a self indulgent trip for good ol' Mel. He’s always been vocal as to how he feels about those damn paparazzi leeches. Remember what they did to Princess Diana? This movie (and Mel) sure do!

Granted, "Paparazzi" was fluff, but last time I checked my grocery list, there’s nothing wrong with that! It never pretended to be anything else than what it was: easy, silly and amusing. Would a deeper dissection of the star/paparazzi relationship have been fascinating? Sure, it would’ve! Could the villains’ have been more layered? Yes (then again, was their severely inconsiderate demeanor that far from the truth?). Could the narrative structure have been more original as opposed to the 90’s thriller mold to which it was sticking to? Definitely…but…I DIDN’T CARE! I enjoyed this bad-boy for the fast-paced, tension-laced and devilishly fun slice of macho-ness it delivered! Think “Death Wish” for movie stars! Now, apart from its slew of predictable, yet crowd pleasing, plot turns, its able supporting cast, its groovy behind-the-scenes Hollywood flavor, its kool “star” cameos (Mel’s ruled) and some occasional arresting directing choices, the flick’s main asset was, in my opinion, the casting of “should be huge star” Cole Hauser as the main dude.

I first took notice of Hauser as the spine-chilling skinhead leader in 1995's “Higher Learning”. Boy, was I thrilled when I heard he finally got his first “leading” break in this baby! Hauser’s turn as Bo Laramie reminded me of the days of old where action stars weren’t sexually ambivalent (XXX, anyone?) and where resorting to violence to solve a harsh problem wasn’t looked down upon…it was considered admirable. In this day and age, where being a “man” by classic definition is considered “politically incorrect” (just look at the Queen Latifah-dominated Jimmy Fallon in the upcoming TAXI remake…is that a man?), it was invigorating for me to see a male lead that was “all man”. Mentally/physically strong, short on words, high on action and ready to crack some heads in the name of defending what should be most dear...his family. Hauser as Laramie had me on his side the whole way as I quickly learned that if there’s one actor who can communicate “edge” and aggression while managing to remain likeable…it’s freaking COLE HAUSER!

On the downside, I did find some of the editing on hand to be choppy. That affected the flow of the flick and the manner in which its soundtrack was awkwardly communicated at times. Moreover, the lack of true onscreen violence was occasionally felt (yes, the dreaded PG-13 again). Some graphic “red grub” would’ve given the whole more impact. Having said that, Hauser’s gleeful smile (the bat bit had me chuckling) almost fully compensated for the off-screen carnage….almost. Overall, "Paparazzi" just kept pushing my right buttons. The theme of revenge is one that I strongly identify with, so I therefore let myself be slapped in the lead character’s shoes and ‘live” the ride. I loathed those paparazzi scumbags so much, that I was encouraging Laramie to "Laramie" their skulls to oblivion! GO LARAMIE GO! GO LARAMIE GO! GO LARAMIE GO!
GORE
We get some minor blood here and there...damn PG-13! I’m an adult! Treat me like one!
ACTING
Cole Hauser (Bo Laramie) WAS the film. The man had screen presence up the yahoo, conveyed aggressiveness like a champ while remaining sympathetic. And you gotta love his drawl! VIVA COLE HAUSER! Robin Tunney (Abbie) knows this role well and she played it credibly again. Tom Sizemore (Rex) let the cocaine do most of the acting...although often “off” in terms of levels, he was a hoot to watch! Dennis Farina (Det. Burton) played it down and came through as the “Columbo” type of cop on the case. LOVE THAT GUY! Daniel Baldwin (Wendell) is quickly becoming a staple in terms of playing sleazebags...he did it well here too!
T & A
We get a couple of scantily clad dancers and the ladies get Cole Hauser shirtless. Surprisingly, Robin Tunney, who drops her top in almost every movie in which she appears, stayed clothed in this one. Back to "Supernova" we go!
DIRECTING
Abascal did fine! I dug his exercise in quick cut madness, his sense of rhythm and his use of slow motion. The accident scene kicked my butt! What a well staged “smash”! NICE!
SOUNDTRACK
We get some random pop/rock songs and a decent score.
DVD FEATURES

Distributor: Fox Home Video
Release Date: January 11, 2005

IMAGE: This dual sided disk gives us the option of viewing the flick in Widescreen or Full Screen

SOUND: We get English - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. We also get French and Spanish dubbing/subtitles.

• Commentary by Director Paul Abascal:
This was director Abascal’s first film and first commentary so he went all out giving us info as to the locations, costumes, technical secrets, props, the editing, background on the production and the experience he had making the film. Granted the commentary was mostly technical and did sport some dead time but overall it made for a satisfying listen. Where was my Cole Hauser commentary though?

• The Stunts of Paparazzi (8 Minutes):
This slickly edited feature brought us on set to witness two stunts being performed: the ladder drop and the car crash. We get some insight as to the preparation and execution of the said stunts. This bit showed more clips from the film than on set footage but was a groovy watch anyways and went on to support that Cole Hauser is the man!

• Deleted Scenes (2 minutes):
Here we get 3 deleted scenes that we can individually or all together. They are called: Switching Rides, Go Back to Work and Making Friends. We can view the scenes with optional director commentary on, explicating as to why they were snipped out (pacing). The last scene was the keeper for me; it was supposed to unravel during the end credits. It shows Tom Sizemore’s character entering his jail cell where he meets his big, black cell mate. The latter tells him that "He’s a fine looking man." You do the math. Fun stuff!

• Making of Paparazzi (4 Minutes):
This feature acted more a as a promotional reel for the film than an in depth “Making Of” but it still gave us comments from Cast and Crew about the picture and even Producer Mel “Great Man” Gibson came chimed in his two cents. A decent feature.

If you missed this fun and badass flick when it hit Theaters, now is your chance to redeem yourself! The fine, macho, vigilante ride that was Paparazzi tagged with the top notch audio/visual qualities of the disk and the "okay" EXTRAS made this a well rounded, “you should think of owning it” DVD.

BOTTOM LINE
"Paparazzi" was custom made for me. Shit, the film’s tagline are actually words I live by: “One good shot deserves another”. You ever have somebody mess with your life while using our very flawed judicial system against you? Well, I have and let me tell ya...it’s a frustrating ordeal. I was so into this movie and felt so close to the character, that I accepted the chain of events easily. No suspension of disbelief required for this jackass…I bought it all! "Paparazzi" won’t win any screenplay or editing awards, but it does get a well deserved “cold one” for being a fast paced, well acted, inventive, suspenseful and exceedingly entertaining spin on the “macho man, vigilante” ferris wheel. You can keep your “The Player”...I’ll take a hard hitting dose of Laramie over that jive any day!
BULL'S EYE
Kurt Russell was once in talks to star in the film.

The flick had a $20 million budget.

Mel Gibson, Chris Rock, Matthew McConaughey and Vince Vaughn all have cameos.

Paul Abascal first broke out in Hollywood as a hair stylist. He did the hair on Die Hard 1 and 2 and the first three Lethal Weapon movies.
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