Fox // 2004 // 82 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // February 25th, 2005
Hollywood will never be the same.
Don't go getting all excited -- the title is a bit misleading. Anyway, this movie is supposed to be Pauly Shore's big comeback, but, despite his best intentions, I don't think this will put him back on top, or wherever it was he found himself fifteen years ago.
After achieving a certain degree of fame on MTV in the early 1990s, Pauly "The Wiezel" Shore had his first major film role in 1992's Encino Man. Pauly then starred in one film a year until 1996, at which point the box office turkey Jury Duty killed his film career. The following year he signed up for Pauly, a sitcom that was pulled from the Fox schedule the morning after it premiered.
The failure of that show provides the impetus for Pauly Shore Is Dead, which opens with Pauly and his friends as they've gathered to watch the premiere episode. Pauly gets a call from his producer the following morning informing him that the show has been pulled in favor of When Animals Attack; dejected and desperate, Pauly tries to get a meeting with MTV executives, but is promptly thrown out of the building. He soon loses his house and his girlfriend, and is forced to move back in with his mother. He is visited by the spirit of the late Sam Kinison, who just happens to be his guardian angel. Sam tells Pauly that it's better to be a dead somebody than a living nobody, so Pauly tricks the world into believing he has committed suicide. Pauly plans to lie low for a while, then return and take advantage of the good will everyone throws his way after his demise, but a young girl and a liquor store clerk recognize him and rat him out. Pauly's friends, family, and fans resent him for the ruse, and Pauly is arrested and sentenced to prison for stealing the corpse used in his fake suicide. It's during his incarceration that Pauly decides to get serious about his craft.
Okay, I admit it, I used to watch Totally Pauly back when I was in college. I'd get out of class in the afternoons, my girlfriend would either still be in class or at work, and there wasn't much else to do. I thought he could be funny at times, but a little of Pauly went a long way. And as far as that sentiment goes, nothing has changed.
Pauly Shore Is Dead is one of the most amateurish movies I've ever seen, which wouldn't be a problem if this thing were actually funny. Pauly serves as star, co-writer, and director, and he fails in pretty much every capacity. He doesn't know how to write or stage a gag, and he too often goes for the obvious joke. There's a scene in which Pauly is lying in bed watching some porno and pleasuring himself. He calls the actress featured in the video, porn star Jewel De'Nyle (played in the film by porn star Jewel De'Nyle), and asks her to talk dirty to him. She reluctantly agrees, but they are interrupted by a call from Pauly's mother. Pauly tries to get rid of his mother and get back to Jewel, but, wouldn't you know it, he screws up and ends up finishing himself off while still on the phone with his mother. When Pauly is forced to sell his house, know who moves in? You guessed it -- Carrot Top. When Pauly is thrown in prison, know who his cellmate is? You guessed it -- Todd Bridges. There's a painfully unfunny scene involving Gerardo "Rico Suave" Mejia, whose career nosedive has forced him to start selling oranges on the streets of Los Angeles. And that Sam Kinison as an angel idea worked better on Married with Children.
As you've probably already figured out, Pauly Shore Is Dead is rife with celebrity cameos, some of them funny, most of them not. Tommy Lee in prison -- not funny (his inflatable Pamela Anderson love doll isn't funny, either). Kurt Loder wondering why MTV News keeps running stories about Pauly's death -- not funny. Fred Durst telling Pauly he'll never star in a Limp Bizkit video -- not funny. Mark McGrath making some little kid at a miniature golf course cry -- not funny. The Hilton Sisters talking about being hit on by Pauly -- not funny. Kato Kaelin running a cheap motel -- not funny. The list goes on and on. But, like I said, a few of them are actually funny. There's a good bit with Pauly scoring dope from Corey Feldman. Adam Sandler's voice-only cameo is one of the funniest things in the movie. There's also a nice riff on the difference between Tom Sizemore and Michael Madsen. (Oh, in case you're wondering, Madsen's date says the difference between him and Sizemore is that Madsen has...uh...more size.) A drunken Vince Vaughn sitting on his couch and yelling at his television is pretty funny. There's also Andy Dick being Andy Dick, and that's almost always good for a laugh. Oh, yeah, the punchline to the film, featuring Verne Troyer and the Dahm Triplets, is very funny.
Here's another problem I have (and you'll have to forgive me for being so anal about this): the anachronisms in the movie. The movie is supposed to begin in March of 1997, and, if you adhere strictly to its timeline, end in September or October of that year. Okay, well, that would make it impossible for Pauly and Verne to discuss the opening of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, which didn't occur until the summer of 1999. An in-disguise Pauly is later seen walking in downtown LA, and a bus drives by. On the side of this bus is an advertisement for Resident Evil, which wasn't released until 2002; Pauly talks about fighting Carrot Top on Celebrity Boxing, although it would be several more years before Rupert Murdoch discovered that goldmine. It's also a little early for Tommy Lee to be locked up -- I don't think he started smacking Pam around until early 1998; Heidi Fleiss is also in the same prison, but I can't remember if she actually was in the joint at that time. (Speaking of celebrities boxing, it's too bad Fleiss and Sizemore don't have any scenes together. I'd love to see that fight.) There's also a reference to Robin Williams's Oscar win, although that came in 1998, and there's footage of Pauly at the premiere of The Pledge, which was released in 2001. When it comes to the Hilton Sisters, how old would Paris and Nikki have been in 1997? Would they have been sexually active back then (I never seen any videotaped evidence from way back then), and if so, would this have put Pauly in jail for different reasons? Oh, yeah, and Jewel De'Nyle didn't start working in the adult industry until 1998. I know, I know, I probably shouldn't be so uptight about such things, but this is one of my big pet peeves when it comes to storytelling in any form. Besides, Pauly goes to great lengths to establish time and place early on, only to throw that out the window about twenty minutes in. He should've been a little more consistent.
Okay, let's move on. The audio/video quality of this release is pretty crappy, too. This thing was shot on digital video, but it looks more like old analog video. The picture is dull and noisy, with inconsistent colors. I also get the feeling that only available light was used during shooting, as too many interior shots are extremely underlit. The audio is even worse; this is purported to be a 5.1 mix, but it's mono all the way (not even the songs dropped into the soundtrack escape the center channel), and hollow sounding mono at that.
The extras are the only somewhat redeeming aspect of this disc. There's a boatload of deleted scenes, which are introduced by Pauly, the Hilton Sisters, Charlie Sheen, and Eminem. There's actually some pretty good stuff in these scenes, including some footage of Dustin Diamond, whose scenes were later re-shot with Sizemore stepping in (Screech apparently wasn't too happy about being replaced). Also included are bits featuring Offspring frontman Dexter Holland, comedian Paul Mooney, Willie Tyler and Lester (yes!), and former MTV veejay Nina Blackwood. The original ending, in which Pauly ended up in a mental institution, is also included. This sequence features cameos by Donny "Ralph Malph" Most and Scotty "I was in A Christmas Story before I turned to porn" Schwartz. (There's also a very funny bit with three women arguing over the number of times each has had sex with Pauly; unfortunately, the funniest line from this scene is unprintable here.) There's a brief featurette chronicling Pauly's struggle to raise money for the film, the best moment of which involves him trying to hit up two Las Vegas hookers for $25,000 each (he eventually ended up paying for the movie out his own pocket). Staind's Aaron Lewis contributes a version of "It's Been Awhile" with the lyrics rewritten to poke fun at Pauly, and there's a brief question-and-answer session taped at a screening of the film held at Cal State. Lastly, Pauly contributes an audio commentary; the commentary has some funny moments, but Pauly spends far too much time thanking his friends for helping him out.
I wish I could tell you that it's cool, buddy...but it's not.
Guilty, but we promise to go easy on the Wiez during the sentencing phase. After all, he did help introduce Carla Gugino to the world.
Review content copyright © 2005 Mitchell Hattaway; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Pauly Shore Commentary
* "Interrogating the Wiez" Q&A with Pauly Shore
* Deleted Scenes with Host Wraps
* Making of Featurette
* Aaron Lewis/Staind Song Parody
* Official Site
* The Wiez's Official Site