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Paparazzi Reviews

At last, a movie for poor, victimized celebrities who've dreamed of violent revenge against the freelance photographers whose bread and butter is catching beautiful people naked, drunk, out of shape, disorderly, unkempt, making faces, doing something ill-considered or, better still, illegal. Hot up-and-coming action star Bo Laramie (Cole Hauser) is relentlessly persecuted by a gang of four especially sleazy paparazzi after he takes them to task for shooting pictures of his young son, Zach (Blake Bryan), at a soccer match. The leader of the pack, world-class creep Rex Harper (Tom Sizemore), goads Bo into slugging him; three of Harper's partners in slime, Wendell Stokes (Daniel Baldwin), Leonard Clark (Tom Hollander) and Kevin Rosner (Kevin Gage), catch the dustup on film and, next thing Bo knows, he's out a hefty settlement and ordered to attend anger-management classes. Harper escapes to stalk another day. The pack next accosts Bo after a swanky soiree, pursuing his car and causing a ghastly accident. As Bo tries to evade his pursuers, his car is broadsided at a crosswalk. The other driver is killed, Bo's wife, Abby (Robin Tunney), is injured and little Zach is plunged into a coma. The paparazzi coolly snap photos of the carnage, and Harper blackmails the only witness (Fay Masterson) into silence. Even then, the shutterbugs don't stop: They snap pictures of Zach in his hospital bed; surreptitiously photograph Abby at home, woozy from prescription pain pills; and ambush Bo giving a friendly hug to a pretty supermarket clerk, leaving inquiring minds to infer the worst. The photographers stick to their story about the crash — they saw it but didn't cause it — and without a witness, Det. Burton (Dennis Farina, doing his best imitation of Peter Falk's Columbo) can't touch them. So Bo takes matters into his own hands. Written by actor Kevin Forrest and directed by Paul Abascal, who began his career as a hair stylist (working on several Mel Gibson movies), this mean-spirited revenge story would once have starred Cole Hauser's father, veteran B-movie psycho Wings Hauser, and played grindhouses and drive-ins. And it would have been a far more entertaining picture. Restraint and discretion — the kind you need to get a PG-13 rating on a major studio film — are the enemies of exploitation. Producer Gibson makes an unbilled cameo as a client waiting to see Bo's anger-management therapist.