Paparazzi (2004)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Showbiz Drama  |   Release Date - Sep 3, 2004 (USA)  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Especially since the death of Princess Diana, guerilla photographers who snap celebrity candids have come to be considered the gum on the bottom of society's shoe. The film Paparazzi exploits this built-in audience disgust to characterize them as somewhere between slugs and dung beetles on the morality scale, deserving whatever they get. They may use every dirty trick known to scumbaghood, and look like they slept the night in an alley, but Cole Hauser, as their victim, isn't much more sympathetic. An actor with a prickly persona, Hauser glowers and broods from minute one, just aching for his chance to go loose on his stalkers. Disturbingly, the film celebrates this vigilantism, all part of a smug, bile-filled revenge fantasy disguised as a Hollywood thriller. Nevertheless, the film also manages to dis the public's appetite for sleaze, as the best-selling tabloid that employs them is named -- what else -- "Paparazzi." Paparazzi marks the second 2004 release from Mel Gibson's Icon Productions that features a questionable moral compass, though The Passion of the Christ at least contains redemptive qualities for much of its audience. Paul Abascal's directorial debut is also a mess technically, full of unmotivated close-ups and random slow motion shots. The best thing about the film is its handful of A-list cameos, due in part to Gibson's name on the project (any later regret about participating is not the audience's concern). Also humorous is that one paparazzo is played by Daniel Baldwin, brother of known paparazzi hater Alec Baldwin. In a few such respects, Paparazzi approaches glorious B-movie shlock. In all others, it's something far, far less.