“Paparazzi” is a scummy, highly predictable, ludicrously single-minded revenge flick from Mel Gibson’s production house and directed by Gibson’s hairdresser (I am not making this up), Paul Abascal.
Cole Hauser stars as Bo Laramie, a Gibson-like action film hero whose breakout movie, “Adrenaline Force,” has thrust him into the major limelight for the first time. Laramie, an aw-shucks nice guy from Montana is a devoted husband (to yummy Robin Tunney as Abby) and father (to cute Blake Michael Bryan as Zach).
Bo is taken aback by the assault of photographers at the premier of “Adrenaline Force,” but tries to be accommodating and take the attention in stride. But when a grotesque foursome of aggressive and, ultimately, violent paparazzi, led by Rex Harper (Tom Sizemore, who knows a bit about the Hollywood lowlife-style), begins taking pictures of Zach and Abby, Bo draws the line.
Goaded on by Rex, Bo finally explodes, punches Rex in the nose, only to be sued and sentenced to anger management sessions with a Tinseltown shrink (Jordan Baker as Dr. Kelly). When a Princess Diana-like assault by Rex’s crew (which includes Daniel Baldwin, Tom Hollander and Kevin Gage) leads to an auto accident that injures and nearly kills Abby and Zach, Bo decides to take his quest for privacy to the next level.
When paparazzi start turning up dead, Detective Burton (Dennis Farina in a kind of “Columbo”-lite role) begins to suspect that Bo is involved somehow but can’t prove it.
“Paparazzi” has all the subtlety of an anvil and the all the class of those folks who throw bags of McDonald’s trash out of their cars. You know exactly what’s going to happen so it makes it all the more infuriating to have to sit there and endure it.
No question some paparazzi have abused their “right” to photograph public figures and we feel properly sympathetic to Laramie’s outrage.
Arguably the paparazzi resulted in the death of Princess Di. And, as with any profession, you’re going to find some psychopaths. But this movie is so heavy-handed, amoral and clumsy in its evocation of the “Death Wish” style justification for revenge that you want to shower immediately after leaving the theater.
n Speaking of theaters, if you haven’t had a chance to visit the remodeled Cinematown Riverdale 10 Cinema, I can recommended it as a much improved movie-going experience. It’s clean and pleasantly redecorated, the staff is friendly and competent and the popcorn is fresh and crunchy.
The best news is that there are nine other films showing so you can visit there and not have to see “Paparazzi.”