Most people find themselves compelled by the lives of celebrities, as the subject often becomes the basis for watercooler chat. As I'm writing this review, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston have just announced their breakup, after they've been the focus of US Weekly (I recently uncovered an early US Weekly from a few years ago, and the differences are fascinating - there's actual, fairly substancial articles) and other magazines for weeks, sometimes catching Aniston without her ring on, which fueled the discussion regarding the status of their marriage even further. Magazines are paying big bucks for photos of celebrities, leading the paparazzi to be even more bold and invasive in their attempts to try and score that photo of a celebrity having a bad moment. Some celebs have fought back, such as Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake, who got into an altercation with two photographers who surprised them at night. "E!", the channel that seems to be about promoting celebrities and entertainment, also offers a show featuring paparazzi footage of celebs.
The subject matter would have probably made for a good drama, or an interesting documentary, discussing and debating a celeb's right to privacy. "Paparrazi", from producer Mel Gibson, isn't that movie. The picture focuses on Bo Laramie (Cole Hauser), an actor who has just made it big as an action star. After the premiere of his latest movie, Bo finds himself confronting a pushy photographer (Tom Sizemore) at his son's soccer game. When the photographer keeps going and taunting him, Bo slugs him and three of the photographer's friends jump out with videocameras, claiming to have footage of the whole thing.
Thinking it's all over, Bo complies with a $500,000 settlement and anger management classes. However, the photographers (Sizemore, Tom Hollander, Kevin Gage and Daniel Baldwin) continue their harassment of the action star - taking flash pictures while he's driving along and causing him to crash, resulting in injuries to his wife (Robin Tunney) and son, who were passengers. With his wife and son in the hospital, Bo seeks revenge.
So, in other words, the film really doesn't have anything much to say, turning the subject into fodder for a cheesy, over-the-top revenge thriller. The photographers are presented in such a way that it's not believable that they wouldn't have gotten in serious trouble by now. Sizemore, however, is exactly right for this kind of role. Hauser isn't bad, either, nor is Robin Tunney as Bo's wife. Dennis Farina does a satisfactory job investigating the situation. Oddly, some cameos (including Chris Rock as a pizza delivery driver, and Matt McConaughey and Vince Vaughn) show up.
Overall, "Paparazzi" offers some decent performances and some slightly entertaining, if absurd, scenes. There's a decent movie waiting to be made about the situation that is currently going on with celebrity photographers, but this overblown drama isn't it.
VIDEO: "Paparazzi" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full-frame by Fox, with both editions included on this dual-sided/single-layered DVD. The picture quality is strange - the majority of the film has a very filtered, orange tint to it that makes the skin color of the actors look noticably off. While this may have been an intentional choice for the photography, it seems strange and doesn't do anything for the movie.
Sharpness and detail are respectable, as the picture appeared moderately crisp and clear. A couple of wide shots appeared a little soft, but overall, definition remained adequate. Aside from the very unnatural skin tones, there were a few other issues - edge enhancement was visible at times, as were some traces of pixelation. The print seemed to be in fine condition, with no specks, marks or other faults.
Colors appeared fine when the orange tone wasn't dominating the image. Overall, this appears to generally be an alright transfer, but the orange, filtered look was a weird mistake.
SOUND: "Paparazzi" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's sound mix is pretty average, with only a couple of moments of inspired surround use. Audio quality was fine, with clear dialogue, music and effects.
EXTRAS: An audio commentary by director Paul Abascal, a "making of" documentary, the film's theatrical trailer, 3 deleted scenes w/commentary, a look at the film's stunts and a brief promo for "Elektra".
Final Thoughts: "Paparazzi" could have been an interesting look at the realities that celebrities have to deal with and how photographers are becoming more and more invasive in their efforts to capture celebs having an off moment. Instead, the film is an absurd, ridiculous thriller that does offer a couple of decent performances. A couple of decent performances aside, the film's a disappointment and not recommended. Fox's DVD suffers in terms of image quality from what appears to be a photography choice, but audio quality and supplements are fine. Those seeking something similar should look into Tony Scott's "Man on Fire" or Tarantino's "Kill Bill" series.
The Film * 1/2