Paparazzi (2004 film)

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Paparazzi movie.jpg
North American theatircal release poster
Directed byPaul Abascal
Produced byMel Gibson
Bruce Davey
Written byForry Smith
StarringCole Hauser
Robin Tunney
Dennis Farina
Daniel Baldwin
Tom Sizemore
Music byBrian Tyler
CinematographyDaryn Okada
Edited byRobin Russell
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
September 3, 2004 (2004-09-03)
Running time
84 min
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million
Box office$16 million

Paparazzi is a 2004 American action film directed by Paul Abascal, produced by actor Mel Gibson, and starring Cole Hauser. The film chronicles the life of a popular Hollywood film star in the aftermath of a car crash caused by four paparazzo tabloid photographers.


Rising movie star Bo Laramie (Cole Hauser) has finally achieved major success with his latest film. A persistent group of unscrupulous photographers — Kevin Rosner (Kevin Gage), Leonard Clark (Tom Hollander), Wendell Stokes (Daniel Baldwin) and their leader Rex Harper (Tom Sizemore) - harass Bo and his wife Abby (Robin Tunney), and their 8-year-old son Zach (Blake Michael Bryan). When Bo takes Zach to soccer practice, he sees Rex taking photos of Zach and confronts him, where Rex provokes Bo into punching him, caught on camera by his fellow photographers. Bo is sued for $500,000 and placed into anger management, while Rex vows to destroy Bo's life.

As Bo, Abby and Zach return from an event, Rex and his crew drive up beside them, in four different vehicles, and blind them by taking pictures. Bo's car is hit by a pickup truck, and Rex and his crew snap photos of the wreck they caused. While Bo is not seriously injured, Abby's spleen is removed and Zach is placed in a coma. Bo is told by LAPD detective Burton (Dennis Farina) that the paparazzi each gave him the same story of finding the wreck after it happened, with no witnesses to dispute their claims. Some time later, Bo accidentally causes Kevin to wipe out on his motorcycle, careening onto a precipice. Bo tries to save him, but when Kevin gloats that they'll put his family through hell, Bo lets him fall to his death.

Bo next goes after Leonard, secretly placing a prop gun in the jacket left in Leonard's car, whilst Leonard invades Bo's movie set and is ejected by security. Following him, Bo calls 911, and describes Leonard's car, saying that the driver is waving a gun. Leonard is pulled over and, reaching into his jacket for his ID, instead pulls out the prop gun, causing the cops to shoot him dead.

Convinced Bo will target them next, Rex and Wendell break into Bo's house to plant cameras inside. Abby runs into Wendell, who assaults her and threatens to kill Zach if she tells the cops. Burton assigns Deputy Walker (Forry Smith) and Deputy Wilson (Donal Gibson) to provide extra security, but Bo sneaks out past the two deputies and into Wendell's house, discovering the feed from the cameras. Wendell arrives home, and Bo confronts him with a baseball bat. In the morning, Bo puts the car back where it was at, and races to beat Burton, on his way to the house. Burton shows Bo a video taken by a camera in a button of Leonard's shirt on the movie set, and thinks someone planted the gun in Leonard's coat. Rex finds Wendell beaten to death, and Bo planted the bat in Rex's houseboat to frame him.

Burton realizes traffic camera footage will prove what really happened at Bo's crash, along with the testimony of Emily (Andrea Baker), who was with Rex at the event, prompted by her guilt to come forward. At Wendell's house, Burton notices the video feed from the cameras in Bo's house and Rex entering with a gun. Rex goes to Bo and Abby's bedroom and opens fire, only for Bo to hit Rex and throw him to the floor. He viciously beats Rex, gloating about how he got his revenge. Rex is arrested (adding to a charge that he had previously harassed and raped Emily) and relentlessly photographed by paparazzi as he is led away. Later, as Bo is finishing filming, he's called to the hospital, where Zach has awakened from his coma. Bo, Abby, and Zach attend at the premiere of Bo's latest film, and Abby is now pregnant with a girl. After the film, Bo meets the press out front, taking a paparazzi's jibe at him in his stride.


Mel Gibson, who was one of the film's producers, appears as an anger management patient in the waiting room of their shared therapist. In addition, Chris Rock appears as a pizza delivery driver, Vince Vaughn appears as Bo Laramie's co-star, and Matthew McConaughey appears as himself at a movie premiere.

At about forty minutes into the movie, Detective Burton (Dennis Farina) tells Bo how one of the papparazzi, Wendell Stokes, has previously sued "Alec Baldwin" or one of the "Baldwins". Daniel Baldwin plays paparazzi Stokes in the movie (see Baldwin brothers).


Box office[edit]

The film was a Box office bomb, having cost about US$20 million to be made, and grossing only $16 million worldwide.[1]

  • United States Domestic Gross: US$ 15,714,234
  • International Gross: US$891,529
  • Total Worldwide Gross: US$16,605,763

Critical response[edit]

The film was terribly rated on Rotten Tomatoes. It received an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a consensus of being "a crude, ludicrous exploitation movie with a questionable moral".[2]

The film also received a large number of negative criticism from major American, Canadian and British publications:

  • "Amazingly arrogant, immoral film." -- Dave Kehr, The New York Times
  • "The audacity of the paparazzi is a good topic, but this imbecilic film has no idea how to focus its intentions." -- E! Online[3]
  • "More than a few movie stars probably have fantasized about getting their revenge on the paparazzi. But leave it to Mel Gibson to see possibilities in a script about a rising star driven to go on a murderous rampage with [the paparazzi] as his victims."—Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle[4]
  • "First-time director Paul Abascal is an ex-hairdresser whose debut film wallows in melodramatic excesses - tense, shrieking music, spitting, sputtering villains and a hero who is right and righteous because, well, he's a celebrity! And even celebrities have vengeance fantasies!"—Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune[5]
  • "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."—Derek Armstrong, Allmovie
  • "The martyr is action star Bo Laramie (Cole Hauser, playing the role as if he were slipped Rohypnol in a drink and forced to be in this movie!)."—Jim Slotek, Jam![6]
  • "[Bo] takes the paparazzi out with extreme prejudice, for which he is investigated by a Columbo-esque cop who not-so-secretly approves of this old school justice. It's just so embarrassing you wish the cinema would fit swivel seats so you can look round at the back wall when he comes on. The movie damns all paparazzi as parasitical villains." -- Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian[7]
  • "Hot on the blood-stained heels of The Punisher, Man On Fire and Kill Bill comes Paparazzi, another lurid revenge fantasy. Its flimsy plot rests on the ludicrous notion that an actor should be entitled to slaughter anyone who invades his privacy. Sadistic in the extreme and lacking any form of moral compass, it's the kind of film only the likes of O. J. Simpson could love."—Neil Smith, BBC[8]

According to Amazon as of June 27, 2017 out of 80 reviews the movie received 51% five-star rating and 20% four-star rating, or 71% very favorable response from viewers.


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