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Celebrity, it’s a funny animal. Fame brings with it the rewards of fortune and instant recognition. Some crave it like a drug, but those that have it sometimes pay a heavy price. Once fame descends then a private life becomes a thing of the past, forever in the public gaze, forever under public scrutiny. The paparazzi have taken this scrutiny to another level. Forever hounding ‘celebrities’ for that perfect picture, the one that everyone will want to see; the one that will make the most money. Their excuse is that the public demand it, so they take bigger and bigger risks delving further and further into ‘celebrities’ private lives, giving them no rest, no escape; but I wonder if the demand would lessen if these guys were to just let up? A vicious circle perhaps, made even worse by unscrupulous newspaper editors that publish the most private moments of ‘celebrities’ and then invent a story that fits the shot. It seems there is no escape. Paparazzi is a film of one such celebrity pushed to the edge by such inventions and such hounding; a what if scenario?

Warning: review contains major spoilers.

Bo Laramie (Cole Hauser) has just made his big break in Hollywood. His film Adrenaline Force has catapulted him into the celebrity A list, with all the pleasures and pitfalls that fame and fortune bring. Attending the premier of Adrenalin Force, Laramie gets his first full on taste of the spotlight. With seemingly everyone shouting his name and non-stop flash photography, it gets to him. A little while later, Bo, his wife Abby (Robin Tunney) and their son Zach (Blake Bryan) have moved into a secluded mansion that comes complete with security gates. Trying to settle into a normal life the Laramie’s take their boy to play soccer, on the way noticing all the unflattering naked pictures of themselves on the cover of the tabloid Paparazzi. During the game Bo notices a photographer taking pictures of his son. Understandably angry about this he confronts the guy, Rex Harper (Tom Sizemore), the editor of the Paparazzi, telling him that he is quite willing to be photographed but please leave his son alone (from Mel Gibson’s experience perhaps?). Rex retorts that he is perfectly entitled to take pictures in a park, but eventually relents, and leaves. Barely minutes later, Rex is at it again, this enrages Bo who storms over and when Rex smart mouths him takes a blow to the chin. Having played right into Rex’s hands Bo discovers that the entire thing has been captured on film by the rest of the Paparazzi team. Bo is then subjected to a court case much more media attention, and forced to go to anger management. Meanwhile Rex and his cohorts celebrate a victory and plan their next move against Bo, with the sole intention of ‘bringing him down’.

Things get mush worse when during a particularly vicious flash photography attack, by team Paparazzi, while driving with his family, Bo is forced to stop in the middle of the road causing an almighty car crash, in a scene surely inspired by Diana. Immediately after the crash, team Paparazzi immediately grab their cameras to take the most candid shots of the devastated car and its hurt occupants, even going so far as to rearrange clothing to make for a better shot and only as an after thought ring the police. Even at the hospital, with his wife in surgery and his son in a coma, Bo cannot escape the camera’s glare.

Still in anger management and unable to cope with his feelings, Bo once again confronts a paparazzi when his photo is taken as he comforts a friend in a store. Luckily Bo regains control and removes himself, drives away, but stops on the crest of the mountainous drive to call his therapist, seems like he is making progress. As he pulls out, the paparazzi, speeding on his bike, swerves to avoid Bo’s car crashes and hangs precariously over the edge of the cliff.  Bo, ever the hero, races to the paparazzi’s rescue, but when he is taunted he is pushed too far, instead of saving the man, he lets him fall. Realising how easy it was, Bo then formulates a plan to take out all of team Paparazzi. Using a combination of ingenuity and brute force Bo gets to work on his plan. Even though the detective on Bo’s car crash case starts to become suspicious of Bo as one by one each of team Paparazzi starts to die, with no actual evidence and Bo’s final plan there is nothing he can do but follow the bodies until its ultimate conclusion.

Paparazzi is a simple film; it wears its heart firmly on its sleeve. It knows what it wants to say, it knows who it wants to say it to, expect little and that is what you will receive. Paul Abascal directs with a furious pace. The entire film runs for just eighty four minutes—barely enough time to sit down before it’s over. Such is the pacing there is little time for characterisation. We know nothing of Bo, where he comes from or why he acts the way he does when threatened. A little back story might have helped understand his character. Yes, his motives are clear and are hammered home, especially during the car crash. Rex and his cohorts are pitched fairly and squarely as the ‘bad guys’. Even before their unscrupulous behaviour after the crash, they are reprehensible. Abascal does try to give them a point of view, but this is quickly buried in blackmail plots and the lies they make up to sell a story.

So what we have here is a hark back to the eighties, when a man was a man and he settled his arguments with a gun. It even goes so far as re-enforcing that idea with the ending where Bo has come to terms with his fame and even jokes with a paparazzi that was trying to get a rise from him. This is not a particularly bad thing as a piece of entertainment, even though it is total fluff; but it must be treated as such. Abascal, however, does add a few shots that show real talent, aside from the actual feelings of hate toward the paparazzi, there are some very poignant scenes, again the car crash; as team Paparazzi crawl all over Bo’s car the camera pans back to revel the devastation of the other driver left all alone and ignored, it screams why is one person life worth more than another. Not bad for a first time director that got his first break into the film industry as a hair stylist…..

This is a dual-sided disc: side A contains a 1.33:1 ‘fullscreen’ transfer, side B a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer with an average bit rate of 5-8Mbps (though did dip as low as 2Mbps in places). I hate pan and scan and only looked at side A to screen grab for comparison with the far superior theatrical ratio; that’s all I have to say on that. The film is less than four months old in its native America and as to be expected from such a new film the print as pristine. There is absolutely no print damage; the picture is clear, bright and clean. Colours are well realised with no bleed and blacks are pleasing deep and true. Even the many camera flashes do not bleach the screen. When the film first starts there is an unnecessary amount of edge enhancement, particularly during the credits, but thankfully this soon clears up and we are then treated to an artefact clear print.

There are three audio tracks, English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, French and Spanish Dolby 2.0 Surround. The English track is quite dynamic in places, particularly during the photo shoot premiers with all speakers getting in on the action. Separation is at its best during these scenes; front and rear effects including shouts, camera flashes and film wined on really putting you in the middle of things. The score too is nicely realised. During the quieter movements only the fronts get the action though and mainly the centre at that. Everything is clear and nicely audible, it has the Dolby common lack of any real depth and base, but for its ilk it is a perfectly good track.

The French and Spanish Surround too sound the best in the premiere scenes, with nice surround effects. Both are very well realised, but again lack the punch of good base. They appear to have the exact same mix except for the difference in dubbing, the Spanish sounding ever so slightly louder.

An audio commentary by director Paul Abascal is, for me, the main extra. Since this is his first film, and subsequently his first commentary, Abascal is happy to share any and all information about any and all aspects of the film, including locations, costume choices, all manner of technical information, even to props and then onto editing and his experience of film making. It is perhaps a little too technical, and unfortunately does have more than a few pauses, but on the whole was an enjoyable listen and makes up for the lack of any substance with the rest of the extras.

The making of featurette runs for a mere four minutes and is more at home as an ‘entertainment channel promo’ than a ‘making of’. There are however some cast and crew interviews, including producer Mel Gibson, but it is all too short and sweet.

‘The Stunts of Paparazzi’ is the longest featurette, running at eight minutes, and concentrates on the two biggest stunts: the ‘film in film’ ladder drop and the car crash. To be honest, though, there is nothing new here, and the run time is padded out with more clips from the film than actual behind the scenes footage, making this a little disappointing.  

There are three deleted scenes that can be watched individually, or together, with or without a director’s commentary explaining exactly why said scene was removed. Each scene has a title and there is nothing here that would have added to the film. The final scene was a ‘comedy’ moment meant to play over the credits, glad it wasn’t included.  Finally the theatrical trailer is also included.

Paparazzi is aimed at the teen market. With its relentless pace, short running time, PG-13 rating and simplistic story there really is nothing to it. First time director Abascal does show some real talent; you feel for Bo and his plight, you loath the paparazzi and the feel good ending, does make you feel, well, good. It succeeds in what it sets out to do—entertain. Expect nothing more.

As a DVD, Fox have presented a reasonable package.  Rather thin on extras, but with a good commentary and a choice of wide or pan and scan viewing it racks up value for money, though I fully expect it in the bargain basement very soon.