Pauly Shore is Dead (January 3/05)
It seems fairly obvious what Pauly Shore is trying to do with Pauly Shore is Dead. The film is packed with put-downs and insults directed at both Shore and his career, to the extent that it becomes clear almost immediately that Shore is trying to distance himself from the Weasel (his comedic alter-ego). But despite a surfeit of celebrity cameos (even Sean Penn makes an appearance!), the simple fact is that Pauly Shore is Dead just isn't very funny. Even Shore's supposed embarrassments, including Encino Man, had more hilarity to offer than this.
The film has been structured as sort of a faux-documentary, though there's no doubt that everything in the movie is staged. The story kicks off when Shore's eponymous Fox sitcom is cancelled after only one airing, forcing the actor to re-examine his career (particularly given the critical and financial failure of his last movie, Bio-Dome). He gets a little help from his guardian angel, who just happens to be the ghost of Sam Kinison (voiced by Craig Gass). Kinison advises Shore to kill himself, with the idea being that his popularity will increase once he's not around anymore. After he supposedly does the deed, Shore discovers that Kinison was right - the problem being that Shore didn't actually go through with it, and now it's just a matter of time until somebody finds him out.
Pauly Shore is Dead marks Shore's directorial debut (he also co-wrote the film's screenplay with Kirk Fox), and in terms of imbuing the movie with a fly-on-the-wall kind of feeling, the budding filmmaker has undoubtedly succeeded. The inclusion of all these celebrities occasionally feels excessive, though there's no denying that there are a few very funny moments to be had because of it (ie a hilarious sequence in which Pauly and a friend stumble upon early '90s novelty act Gerardo selling oranges by the side of the road).
And as ingratiating as Shore is in the film - it's hard not to root for somebody who wants nothing more than to be liked - the questionable pacing makes it difficult to ever really become involved with the story. Presumably in an effort to shoehorn as many celebrities as possible into the movie, there's not much of a plot here - something that becomes increasingly noticeable as the film progresses. Shore's obvious enthusiasm can only carry things up to a certain extent, after which the movie turns into a game of spot the cameo more than anything else.
Pauly Shore is Dead hopefully marks the start of a comeback for Shore, particularly if it means the end of ultra low-budget vanity projects like this.