R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Paul Abascal
scr Forrest Smith
with Cole Hauser, Robin Tunney, Tom Sizemore, Dennis Farina, Daniel Baldwin, Tom Hollander, Kevin Gage, Blake Bryan, Chris Rock, Matthew McConaughey, Vince Vaughn, Mel Gibson
release US 3.Sep.04, UK 28.Jan.05
04/US Icon 1h29

Leave me alone: Sizemore and Hauser

hauser tunney sizemore

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Paparazzi Made with a callous disregard for logic or believability, this is one of those goofy little thrillers that defines the straight-to-video market. And yet here it is on the big screen! And watching a really bad movie in a crowded cinema can actually be a lot of fun.

Bo Laramie (Hauser) is about to be catapulted into the upper echelons of Hollywood stardom with the premiere of his action film Adrenaline Force. He's determined to protect the privacy of his wife and son (Tuneney and Bryan), and yet a team of tabloid photographers (Sizemore, Baldwin, Hollander and Gage) won't leave them alone. Finally, Bo confronts them, leading to an escalating feud that draws the attention of an alert detective (Farina).

Once the thriller plot kicks in, we have no doubt at all what will happen next. And screenwriter Smith does nothing to make things interesting. The storyline and dialog are deeply simplistic, and yet there's a certain perverse charm in watching the cast and crew try so desperately to convince us that this is a suspenseful and exciting movie. It's not, but it is rather enjoyable in its sheer desperation.

Hauser is actually quite good, making us wish he could get a lead role in a proper movie for once. Charming and a bit creepy, he's a nicely shaded hero who manages to balance his character's behaviour to keep us on his side, which is no mean feat with this plot. Tunney is fine in an underwritten role; and Sizemore chomps through the dialog with barely concealed contempt for the sleazeball he's paying. Baldwin and Farina are half asleep. And the A-list cameos are rather hilarious, given the lowbrow quality of this movie.

As the story progresses, it gets increasingly stiff and clunky ... and cornier by the minute. There's a decent premise here, about the vile tactics of hacks who call themselves "photojournalists" then proceed to tear people's lives apart. But this stupid and violent revenge drama doesn't even come close to making the most of the situation. At least it's hilariously awful.

cert 15 themes, violence, language 25.Jan.05

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2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall