I held out as long as I could. I can feel the nearing presence of M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village” (Buena Vista). Another day and it will arrive in my mail box, I just know it, safely ensconced in foam peanut shells.
But I don’t have another day. And so I will not have the pleasure of writing about this horror/thriller’s engaging and contemporary metaphor of a picturesque village in the grip of an unseen and unknowable fear lying just beyond the edge of town. (I am curious to know if the village is gated and if the elders have a homeland security committee …) Perhaps another day.
No, this column is due (overdue, actually) and Plan B is, forgive me, “Paparazzi” (Fox). Otherwise known as “Mel Gibson’s Revenge.”
For the record, I really don’t think Gibson wants to kill every celebrity photographer who ever annoyed him. But you never know. There is a lot of thinly veiled anger spilling over the top of the plot of this thing. Maybe “Paparazzi” is a form of therapy, maybe catharsis, maybe just anger management.
It could be just an infantile outburst by a celebrity actor with way too much money and way too much creative control in a town that worships both.
It is preachy, and it is righteous. (And you can take that from a guy who has wanted to kill his own photographers on occasion.)
It is much more of a cable TV-class movie than a theatrical release. That’s the power of the name Mel Gibson for you. So if you were among the several who paid good money to see it in a theater, sorry.
Bo Laramie (Cole Hauser) is an action-movie star grappling with sudden fame when he becomes the target of four ruthlessly predatory celebrity photographers. Their relentless pursuit (and his own temper) lands Laramie’s son and wife in a hospital. Laramie concludes the one way to deal with these guys is to kill them – the logic of which would escape all but Paris Hilton, Ben Affleck, Tara Reid and Mel Gibson. Hasn’t this guy heard of publicists and bodyguards?
The tabloid slimeballs are lead by ruthless Rex (Tom Sizemore, who is a tabloid regular in real life) and wino Wendell (Daniel Baldwin, who couldn’t get his own picture taken by a celebrity photographer if he waved cash in front of the camera).
The movie has one audience, really: other celebrities, people who have experienced the unspeakable horror of having their photograph taken (especially on a bad hair day). To get the rest of us to care, this needs to be either madly satirical or terrifyingly dark. It is neither.
I was in the mood for the “Cape Fear” of celebrity revenge films and instead I got a Lifetime Channel Movie of the Week. It makes me mad enough to pick up a camera and shoot someone.
Watch for cameo stints by Vince Vaughn and Matthew McConaughey as themselves and Chris Rock as a pizza delivery guy. Gibson has the only honest laugh in the film, as a patient in the waiting room of a therapist specializing in anger management.
ALSO THIS WEEK
“Silver City” (Columbia TriStar) You got your language-mangling, born-again, clueless, man of the common man candidate (the wonderful Chris Cooper as Dicky Pilager). He’s the son of a powerful politician and he’s running for public office, barely able to distance himself from family corruption, dirty tricks, intrigue, muckraking, moral outrage, and a host of other political virtues. Michael Moore’s newest? Nope. It is from John Sayles. “Silver City” came out so close to the last election, it was all but indistinguishable from real life. But it is fiction. I guess …
“Without a Paddle” (Paramount) In this Steven Brill-directed comedy, three childhood pals (Seth Green, Matthew Lillard and Dax Shepard) – all at emotional and professional crossroads – reunite at another pal’s funeral and decide to complete his quest for the lost loot of legendary hijacker D.B. Cooper. Think of it as “Deliverance” (Burt Reynolds even has a role) meets “Big Chill” meets “American Pie” meets “City Slickers II: The Legend of Curley’s Gold.”
“Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson” (Paramount) The story of America’s first champion black boxer is documented by Ken Burns and airs on public television Jan. 17-18. The DVD contains extra footage, a music video and a making-of featurette.
FROM THE VAULTS
“Walt Disney’s Classic Cartoon” – Four volumes of classic Disney cartoon shorts – one each featuring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Chip ‘n’ Dale.
OFF THE TUBE
“CSI: Miami” (second season, 24 episodes); “Monk” (second season, 16 episodes); “Hunter” (first season, 19 episodes); “Gilligan’s Island.
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