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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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