Pauly Shore Postin' Part 1: The Phantom of the Mall, Biodome, Jury Duty, Son in Law, & Encino Man
Recently I binged on the man, the legend, the weasel, Pauly Shore’s film career after being reminded of his existence by watching Brutal Moose’s Mystery Tape episode that had a recording of one of his appearances on Fox Kids in the early 00s. For some reason, remembering his existence sent me down a rabbit hole where I’ve learned more than I thought I ever would about Mr. Shore (and his hole…this man features his bare ass in more movies than I would have ever imagined and I’m not necessarily complaining).
I’m still working my way though his filmography, but I thought I might as well document my thoughts about the movies I watched within a span of like a week before it’s too long for me to actually remember the unique artistry of his performances.
My rating system for this is totally subjective and more based on my overall interest in the film’s plot, characters, aesthetic, and the sincerity of it as a whole. Of course a huge part of the rating is also based on whether or not it’s worth watching for Pauly or if it’s totally skippable.
And if Pauly Shore is reading this for some reason–please know that I love you and genuinely enjoy you as an actor. I am in no way doing this to rip apart your career and think you were totally shafted in the mid-90s. I get the impression that while the youth culture was ready for your character type, the rest of the world wasn’t. The mid-90s (and let's be honest, the mid 2020s) just weren’t ready for the effeminate brand of masculine comedy that you brought to the table, but I’m eating it the fuck up.
Without further ado, I present to you my quest to understand the essence of Pauly Shore through five films: The Phantom of the Mall, Biodome, Jury Duty, Son in Law, and Encino Man.
The Phantom of the Mall
Movie was interesting enough. I did appreciate what they were going for with the 80s adaptation for this story, and it was nice to see Pauly play a role that was more sincere. He shows more of a soft side in this movie when he protects his female friend from being hit on too hard because she's still super traumatized by her boyfriend dying in a fire (or so she thought) before the movie takes place. It seems like a Pauly trademark is being very handsy. And showing his ass! You even see partial nutsack in this movie!
Who would I recommend this to? People who enjoy Pauly Shore but do not want to subject themselves to his grating later work. People who like Phantom of the Opera in general might get a kick out of this silly 80s horror flick. And if you have an appreciation for Mac's dad from IASIP, he's one of the antagonists in this movie along with the Dos Equis guy! Very interesting cast.
I know this movie is one of the rare few with 1% on Rotten Tomatoes, and perhaps my brain has deteriorated enough from all of the shitty films I subject myself to, but honestly this one wasn't bad at all and I found myself genuinely laughing at many of the jokes. The premise itself was interesting (Shore and one of the Baldwin brothers with white guy dreds getting dubconned into a environmental science experiment), and the writing for this movie overall was decent. There was actually a consistent narrative, which seems like an odd thing to praise a movie for. However, after seeing Jury Duty, I have even more appreciation for this film lol. It was genuinely fun and I enjoyed it even more on rewatch like 10 years later. In my opinion, this movie ripened into some fine Pauly Shore wine. His synergy with Baldwin is mesmerizing in this movie. Shore has this sort of effortless energy that plays well with Baldwin's enthusiasm for the role, and it's just fun to watch.
Who would I recommend this movie to? Definitely people who appreciate The Weasel. You get to see him really show off his flexibility in this movie, which was fascinating. I had no idea Shore was capable of putting his foot in his mouth and behind his head! I also really appreciated all of the extremely frequent homosocial bonding in this movie. I know I have a thing for straight acting dudes being into each other and way overly touchy in a borderline sexual way and this film scratched all of those itches for me. Shore stroking and showing off Baldwin’s ass for an old man to witness like a prime piece of beef? Check. Shore stroking his crotch while he enthusiastically sniffs Baldwin’s farts multiple times in the movie? And Baldwin reciprocating their shared fart kink? Check. Kissing each other and hugging and groping each other like every 5 minutes of the movie? Check. Shore saying that both him and Baldwin are bisexual as a weird joke when trying to decode what “biodome” means? CHECK! There are also a lot of interesting late 90s outfits in this movie, and I appreciated the more vivid men's fashion to go along with the women’s outfits in this movie.
This definitely isn’t the worst movie I’ve seen period, but is the worst as part of the Pauly experience. I think I have an extremely low bar for what I consider garbage movies, and most of the time it’s dependent on how sincere I feel the movie is when achieving its vision. The aesthetics are also a huge factor, as I’m willing to excuse writing and acting if the film itself at least looks and sounds incredible (see Tron: Legacy). That being said, this was definitely not an enjoyable movie. It was difficult to follow in a way that made it infuriatingly confusing for the majority of the film. It was essentially a bunch of mostly unrelated character interactions that never seemed logical. And on top of that, I think the movie suffered most from how scripted it felt. I get the impression that the movies that Pauly Shore is in that are decent let him improvise more, and this movie seemed like it was restraining him in a way that made his performance feel oddly stilted. The only moments I remember enjoying were the beginning and end strip tease performances from Mr. Shore himself–first as a milkman and second as a judge. In fact, I think the entire movie would have been much more interesting if it was essentially a Show Girls parody where he has to make it as a stripper and hijinks ensue. I also realized watching this movie that he sure likes being in movies where he shows his ass! He shows it THREE times in this movie for extended periods of time! He also seems to have a thing for pouring liquid all over himself lol. In another universe, he would have made a spectacular fetish actor.
Who would I recommend this movie to? Honestly, nobody lol. This one is skippable. If you want to see Pauly Shore in drag or in a skimpy thong multiple times, you’re in luck because you can just watch the beginning sequence, the middle part where he has a conjugal visit, and the last scene where he returns to his job as a stripper. It’s actually kind of nice that each act of this film is bookended by Pauly Shore’s ass. Otherwise, don’t waste your time on this one. I can see why this film was responsible for nuking his career, especially considering this movie took $21 million to make and was a box office bomb.
Son in Law
What a movie! What a ride! I found this one pretty enjoyable, especially because this is another movie where you see Shore’s rare sincere side. And he shows his ass yet again! He also gets peed on by a cow in the face! Wild! Basically, he’s this college fuck up burn out RA who gets invited to his resident’s family’s house for Thanksgiving (the college is in CA and she’s from SD, which is the main conflict of the movie with the culture clash). While there, the female lead (played by Carla Gugino) is proposed to by her boyfriend who she’s fairly estranged from. It’s super awkward, and Pauly Shore saves the day by lying and saying that she can’t get engaged to him cause he already proposed to her. Don’t we all love a pretend dating trope! This is actually the first time I’ve witnessed this in film and it was a lot of fun! I found Shore’s family counseling refreshing and I thought it was fun to see her super conservative family come around to his weasel ways. Also he tells his friend's mom that she's giving him a semi and she responds "thank you" lmfao. And then he gives her a makeover! We love fem for fem fashion advice!
Something that deserves its own spot in this review is the fact that SHORE HAS A PURPLE HANKY IN HIS RIGHT POCKET WHICH MEANS HE'S A BOTTOM & into piercings??? or purity???? Who knows, but bottom Shore confirmed! What an ally! (Sidenote: Pauly started his own rumor in like 2017 that he was gay, so make of that what you will)
Who would I recommend this movie to? This is a fairly tasteful Shore movie, so this is one that would pair well with a family evening or just something light to watch in a stoner feel good movie kind of way. I found myself fascinated seeing him play the role of love interest for a change, and I don’t think he does a half bad job. He’s got this chaotic, queer platonic sort of energy going on with his chemistry with the lead actress, so it was kind of cool to see something that fits my own understanding of this kind of relationship. This was also a really fun movie outfit wise, so if you want to see Shore in a lot of mesh shirts, this is the movie for you. I also really enjoyed how sincerely he plays this character and how he takes on this mentorship role with every character in the film. It was like putting on a nice warm sweater made out of Pauly Shore, which I definitely needed after watching Jury Duty.
This is a must watch for Brendan Fraser but not so much for Pauly Shore. His acting was fine, but felt a little too subdued in a way that made his character feel more stilted. I have to wonder if he was asked to tone it down so Fraser's caveman energy could really shine. He was still funny, but it just felt as though either he or the directors didn't know what to do with him as part of a trio when he's not the funny man. My favorite parts of this movie were when he was interacting with Fraser, so maybe the trio thing wasn't the issue but instead that he or his character didn't have as much chemistry with Sean Astin. Maybe it was just him being involved in the weird broey friend drama that I just didn't vibe with. It was much less interesting than him teaching Fraser to wheeze (weaz) the juice and harass fursuit mascots. Huge kudos to this movie for the cute dance number at the end set to a song about penis! We need more penis dance numbers at the end of films! This is the only movie that did not involve Shore showing his ass or showing off someone else's, so I had to take off a star for that.
Who would I recommend this movie to? Those that want to see a very young Samwise Gamgee be a teenage douchebag lol. And Brendan Fraser enthusiasts in general. As far as for the Shore aficionados, this one isn’t his best work, though he’s nice enough in it. I do like that his wardrobe in this is more 70s inspired, but something about this movie felt like the director restrained Shore to spotlight Fraser’s performance.
I've noticed Shore does well in movies where he's part of a duo. He doesn't come across strong enough in roles where he's solo and when he's part of a trio. I'm not sure he or the directors know what to do with him as a third wheel in the straight man-funny man continuum, so he’s kind of just there.
He plays the manic pixie dream boy in several of the movies on this list. I feel like he’s created this niche role on the character continuum that we don’t really see in film. As a dream boy, he’s just there to aid the main character with his charmingly chaotic energy, yet what makes him different from the dream girl is that he’s unobtainable. I think in a way this goes against the norm for gendered expectations for male roles in many ways because of taking this nurturing role while also being off limits, not for any real reason other than the fact that his presence exudes this queer energy that surpasses heteronorms.
The world was ready for Shore, but not ready to have him play roles that diverged from this dream boy character. He's too chaotically feminine to fit the actual love interest role in a rom com, which tended to be the bread and butter for a lot of comedians in that era. While his role in Son in Law borders on him embodying the love interest role, he never really fully fits it as his character never wants to actually pursue the main girl even when they’re fake dating. He’s much more interested in being her friend and making her over, even though he clearly has an interest in women as he takes her to a–stripclub? Sexy wrestling Hooters? –just to oogle the girls with her. At the same time, his characters tend to have these really touchy-feely, homosocial relationships with other men, which is something I find really cool about a lot of his characters. Pauly is like the perfect QPR in all of the roles he’s in and just emanates this sexy, cool, aroace sort of energy that I appreciate.
This does not conclude my Pauly Shore journey, and I have a lot more thoughts about his career that I could probably make several other posts about. I didn’t think I would have ever gone down this weasel hole, but I’m glad I did. Pauly represents something special, especially due to the fact that his career burned out so quickly, at least in mainstream comedy. It’s fascinating to me that he’s one of those actors that’s always known as himself rather than as a character, and I don’t feel like we see a lot of performances these days where an actor just acts as themself, or the high concept version of themself that’s consistent throughout all of their roles.
Next up, I’m going to watch In the Army Now, Pauly Shore is Dead, Pinnochio, and both of the Goofy Movies, along with some of his Totally Pauly appearances on MTV.