Wednesday, May 11, 2005
  DVD Review: Pauly Shore Is Dead

Pauly Shore Is Dead is the best movie Pauly Shore has ever done. Which basically just means that it’s watchable. It is actually possible to sit all the way through it without feeling the need to throw a lamp at the television. This is even true if you hate Pauly Shore. In fact, hating Pauly Shore might make the movie more enjoyable for some, as you’ll likely finish the film with the impression that nobody hates Pauly as much as he hates himself.

We were sort of tricked into renting this DVD. The title got my attention at the video store, and I picked up the box to read the back out of morbid curiosity. I got the impression that the movie was kind of a documentary... sort of a feature-length “Punk’d” wherein Pauly faked his death and had a video crew record the genuine reactions of other celebrities to the news of his demise. Imagine Whoopie Goldberg and Carson Daly trying to think of something nice to say about films like Son-In-Law. I imagined it would be funny to hear what people came up with to say and then see their reaction when he revealed the joke. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not proud of it, but the premise struck me as funny.

Turns out, Pauly Shore Is Dead isn’t like an episode of “Punk’d” at all, or even a feature length “mockumentary.” It’s just another Pauly Shore movie, but this time the character Pauly plays is a version of himself, a washed up former celebrity looking for one more cash-in. In a desperate attempt to get back on TV, Pauly fakes his death and then goes to jail when the public finds out he’s perpetrated a fraud.

Along with the usual sex jokes, penis jokes, masturbation jokes, sex jokes, butt jokes, penis jokes, and sex jokes that you may expect from a Pauly Shore movie, the film also serves up a string of one-gag jokes about washed up celebrities and the fickle nature of fame. A number of flash-in-the-pan 80's stars show up to mock the demise of their own stardom... we see Latin rapper Gerardo selling oranges by the freeway. We see Todd Bridges converting to Islam in jail. We even see Pauly symbolically pass the torch to Carrot Top, as that redheaded waste of oxygen moves into the Hollywood home that Pauly can no longer afford. A lot of the jokes don’t work, but in the first half hour, a surprising number of them do, and I actually laughed out loud a few times.

The string of cameos that serves as a cast never really gels in any real way, but never gets that annoying, either. Tom Sizemore gets the movies best line when a blond bimbo asks him if he’s that actor who always plays a creepy guy in the movies. “No,” he tells her, “That’s Michael Madsen.” The real Pauly obviously had great respect and affection for the real Sam Kinison. A couple of scenes in which an actor plays Sam as Pauly’s guardian angel are actually touching... in a weird, retarded way.

After the first half hour, the movie gets old and the gags get tired. For those first thirty minutes, though, the film had the potential to become funny, frank, and smart. It never delivers on that potential, though. By the time we see Pauly in jail arguing with Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst over the telephone in an awkward, over-long, and painfully unfunny scene, it’s hard to not just take the DVD out and forget about it. I mostly finished the movie so I’d be qualified to write a review of it, and it wasn’t really worth it even for that. Still, I did laugh a few times. I can’t say that about any project Pauly Shore has been associated with in the past. So while I’d happily call this Pauly’s best film yet, the truth is, when it was over, the only one who’d been “Punk’d” was me.

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