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DID YOU READ

Disc Covering: “Adopted,” With Your Buuuuuuddy, Pauly Shore

Disc Covering: “Adopted,” With Your Buuuuuuddy, Pauly Shore  (photo)

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Straight-to-DVD is known as the last stop on the gravy train before the end of a fading star’s career. And there’s definitely some truth to that. But it can also be a low-risk, high-reward place to restart a career, where you can throw away the stuff that hasn’t been working and trying something new. Budgets and stakes may be lower, but so are expectations.

The DTV landscape is full of untapped opportunities and I give Pauly Shore credit for being one of the first guys I’ve come across in this column who’s clearly taking advantage of that. Completely dismissed by critics (Roger Ebert once compared him to “the cinematic equivalent of long fingernails drawn very slowly and quite loudly over a gigantic blackboard”), reduced to a punchline in the mainstream, the former MTV DJ and movie star has reinvented himself in straight-to-DVD land as “Pauly Shore,” the star of self-deprecating autobiographical mockumentaries like 2003’s “Pauly Shore is Dead” and his new film “Adopted.” As writer and director as well as star, “Adopted” is, more than anything he made in his ’90s heyday, a “Pauly Shore Movie.”

But is that a good thing?

“Adopted”
Directed by Pauly Shore

Tagline: “First there was ANGELINA, then MADONNA, and NOW PAULY!”

07272010_disccovering1.jpgTweetable Plot Synopsis: In order to make fun of celebrities, African stereotypes, and himself, Pauly Shore travels to South Africa and tries to adopt a baby.

Salable Elements: Here’s what “Adopted”‘s DVD distributor, Phase 4 Films, lists as “Adopted”‘s “selling points” on the film’s factsheet:

“-Pauly Shore is a well known comedic brand with regular appearances on North American talk shows.

-Over $140 Million in box office hits (“Encino Man,” “Son In Law,” “Jury Duty,” “Bio-Dome,” “In The Army Now,” “Pauly Shore Is Dead”).

-Pauly is a regular on the comedy circuit, currently on a North American comedy tour (running through Summer 2010), and his comedy show Pauly Shore and Friends is currently airing on Showtime.”

Press materials for “Adopted” also boast that the film is “in the style of ‘Waiting For Guffman’ and ‘Borat.'” Which is true. But being in the style of something is not the same as it being as good as something. “Plan 9 From Outer Space” is in the style of “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” That doesn’t make it any better.

07272010_disccovering2.jpgBiggest Success: Though Shore himself has very little commitment to the reality of the world he’s pretending to document — the explanation he provides as to why he wants to adopt a kid is flimsier than a wet tissue — the South African actors he cast are terrific and totally believable. Shore is the only non-local in the bunch and his untrained co-stars, especially Odwa Mpambaniso as a charmingly outgoing orphan and the uncredited social worker who plays Allan, are far more believable in their roles than Shore is in his. And he’s playing Pauly Shore.

Biggest Failure: Again, give Shore credit: he shot this film on location in South Africa, and in doing so he did manage to capture a bit of the region’s flavor. Granted, you’ve got to go looking for it in establishing shots and brief unscripted moments between Pauly’s schtick, but it’s there. If he eased up on the material a little and really took an interest in this place, he might have had something truly worth watching. But mostly Shore’s just using the mockumentary format as a means to deliver a barrage of tasteless jokes. Truly satisfying mockumentaries have a few components that “Adopted” is missing: most importantly, they’re easily mistakable for real life. Even with the impressively authentic locations, does anyone really believe Pauly Shore is going to adopt an African orphan? No.

07272010_disccovering3.jpgAfter 75 minutes of crass humor, the film ends with an Aldous Snow-esque message from Shore that reads “Even though I made fun of adoption, underneath it all, it’s no laughing matter. In Africa there are 34 million orphans,” (I’m telling you: try it in a Russell Brand accent. It’s a dead ringer). Shore’s commitment to educating audiences about the truth behind his satire is laudable. But a gifted filmmaker would have incorporated that truth into the body of his film. Shore’s got a decent idea and a unique setting but he’s lacking the intellectual curiosity of those films “Adopted” is “in the style of.” Adopted” really is a Paul Shore movie: an incredibly uneven, dumb, and, yes, occasionally humorously dumb comedy.

Best Moment: As you might expect from a guy who made a film entitled “Pauly Shore is Dead,” Shore’s greatest strength remains his ability to make fun of himself. Shore is repeatedly encountering — and getting rebuffed by — a series of attractive South African women. After one particularly disastrous romantic encounter, Shore moans “If we were back in the States this would not be happening. Don’t these girls know who I used to be?”

I Question: that an orphanage would allow someone to “test drive” their children.

Worthy of a Theatrical Release? No, but this isn’t the worst way to spend 75 minutes. I’ll cop to laughing at least a couple times. The film is currently available on Netflix Watch Instantly, so if you’re curious, that’s the way to go.

For Further Viewing: watch this YouTube clip, which requires no additional setup beyond its title: “Pauly Shore Drunk on Morning Show.”

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.