I admit, glancing around to make sure that my wife is out of the room, that I have found Pauly Shore funny. True, it was back in my college days, usually after a case of brews and some homegrown, but I frequently found myself laughing at the antics of “The Weasel”. There he was on MTV, holding forth as a king of his domain, a queer mixture of SoCal surfer speak and marijuana induced freestyle.
Movies were next: “Encino Man” was a hit, as was “Son-In-Law.” But then there was “Bio-Dome.” And “Jury Duty.” And “You’re In The Army Now.” Suddenly, it wasn’t cool to admit you enjoyed the Weasel. People stopped imitating him after a few drinks, and even surfer punks couldn’t pull off a “Hey, Buuuuddy” without being ridiculed. His fifteen minutes, it seemed, were up. A sitcom on Fox that ran for just one episode was the final knife in the back, and Pauly Shore fell off the public radar.
What happened to the Weiz after 1997? According to his new and fairly funny film, “You’ll Never Wiez In This Town Again,” he lost his home, lost his fiancé, moved back in with his mother, and was advised by the ghost of late comic Sam Kinison to commit suicide. Rather than hang around and wait for “The Surreal Life” to come knocking, Pauly chooses to fake his own death, sure that news of his demise will bring about a renewed interest in his career. He goes into hiding and watches the media hype him as “a comic genius”.
In the middle of the country, an inbred country boy named Bucky (Brown), Pauly’s self-proclaimed number one fan, is on the verge of a breakdown when the news breaks that the suicide was a hoax. Filled with wrath, he sets off for California and gets himself arrested and sent to the same jail as our hero (who has been busted by a ten year old girl). Bucky wants to kill Pauly for real, for betraying his fans.
WEIZ is a relatively short film, cramming in an amazing amount of celebrity cameos in its one hour and five minute running time. I have to admit I got a kick out of some of them (Tommy Lee and Hollywood madam Fleiss in the L.A. Jail was a nice touch) but a few were distractingly awful (Kato may not add “Actor” to his resume anytime soon). People playing Spot the Star will be in Hollywood heaven here.
Shore does the one thing that every actor claims is damn near impossible: he plays himself perfectly. He has stretched himself a bit too thin here, and although the script is well written (with longtime friend Fox, who does not play himself well) he should have left the directing chores to someone more sure of himself. The pacing of the film is slow; it saunters when it should shake and shimmer, and the results are uneven.
Still, you have to admire his courage. It takes brass balls, or at least a spirit of nothing left to lose, to do what Shore has done here, and I salute him for it. “Wiez” is not a very entertaining movie, not destined to put a record number of butts in theatre seats, but it’s a bold attempt to exorcise some ghosts. Perhaps this will be the calling card that welcomes Shore back to fold…or maybe it’s just a suitable farewell.