By Pete Croatto
Forget what those how-to screenplay books advise. The key to getting a screenplay sold is to find a pet peeve of Hollywood celebrities, and write a script where they get revenge on those behind the annoyance. A movie like this is now playing at a theater near us. Paparazzi tells the story of an up and coming actor (Cole Hauser) whose life is disrupted when some pesky shutterbugs won't leave him alone, nearly killing his wife and kid. So, naturally, the star starts killing the photographers.
As awful as it is, Paparazzi should give us hope. Look how many ideas there are for scripts! How about a thriller where a starlet (maybe Kate Bosworth) can never find fat free ranch dressing at the craft services table, so she plots revenge against the maniacal catering service who always serves her the dreaded regular ranch. Or how about this: an independent film star who can never find the perfect faded, retro T-shirt at the trendy Brooklyn boutique, loses his cool and starts busting skulls. One of the guys from Y Tu Mama Tambien can star.
Oh, the possibilities are limitless! Living the lives they do, celebrities face constant inconveniences and hassles. And they need to be heard, right now! We just have to avoid the mistakes director Paul Abascal and screenwriter Forrest Smith -- working from an idea by producer Mel Gibson -- made with Paparazzi. By following a simple set of rules, it'll be a matter of time before one of us makes the celebrity version of American Splendor. Only Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis will be nowhere near it. Well, unless Davis dumps the Joyce Carol Oates look.
Here's what we need to do:[
Get a better lead actor. Hauser has been acting for years, but recently in 2 Fast 2 Furious and in Paparazzi he's been doing this solemn, aggravated style that doesn't exactly elicit sympathy, an important matter when your character is killing people with the ease of flicking a light switch. When your hero is creepier than the bad guys, that's not a good sign.[
We'll try to explain the motives behind what the tormentor does. In Paparazzi, Abascal and Smith only see black and white. The audience never gets an idea of what motivates these people to live these lives. Is it an adrenaline rush? Is it the money? Is it the perk of wearing whatever you want all of the time? Since the movie features a no-dimensional hero and several one-dimensional villains, there's no incentive to watch. Justified, multi-layered hatred makes every conflict better. That's why sports reporters can't stop talking about the Red Sox and Yankees, but rarely pay heed to any other baseball rivalry.[
Dennis Farina, Robin Tunney, and Tom Sizemore are excused, because they are good actors whom we should respect by not offering our project. They shouldn't have to revisit the past. Speaking of the past was it really six years ago that Sizemore and Farina were in Saving Private Ryan? Could it be that five years ago Tunney was looking to jumpstart her career with End of Days? Wow.[
Gone will be the clichés: a cute little kid to get those tears going, gratuitous celebrity cameos, a pointless and redundant introductory voice over, shots of our hero sitting in empty rooms pondering what went wrong, jogging on the beach, riding a convertible along the Pacific coastline, and the investigating cop who knows more than he's letting on.[
Our lead character will have a better name than Bo Laramie. Is he in porn? In the 1970s?
Now, the next step is to befriend a celebrity. Abascal was Gibson's barber, and look where it got him. So, scour the Los Angeles newspapers, talk to your friends. Surely, Tara Reid needs a dog walker. I can't imagine that Paul Walker waxes his own surfboards. If you're not in Los Angeles, try New York. I once saw Julianne Moore pushing her kid in a stroller. Maybe she needs a nanny.
Hollywood success has never been closer to us, friends. Just remember to bring a pooper scooper and shoes you don't care about.
Watching this anyway on DVD? Director's commentary, deleted scenes, and a couple of featurettes extend the suffering.
How about a trim, Robin?
Run time: 84 mins
In Theaters: Friday 3rd September 2004
Box Office USA: $15.6M
Box Office Worldwide: $16.6M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: 20th Century Fox
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 18%
Fresh: 14 Rotten: 66
IMDB: 5.8 / 10
Director: Paul Abascal
Screenwriter: Forrest Smith
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