Pauly Shore is Dead is Shore's self-referential mockumentary about what happened to him after he fell from fame. Beginning with the overexposure of the wiezel and the failure of his sitcom, the film chronicles his downward spiral, plan to fake his own death, and the consequences of his fraud's exposure, filled with celebrity cameos along the way.
The film is funniest in its first act with the rise and downfall. Shore has a great sense of humor about his one-note schtick. His desperation feels real, like he is sharing some of his personal pain while playing it for laughs.
Then it drags during the whole death faking plot. This is a kind of obvious ploy that gets built up too much, as if we need an explanation for the simple premise that Shore would be more appreciated if he were dead. The whole thing about his new identity and watching the reactions from afar is silly, though many of the celebrity reactions are funny.
Then the film comes back as Shore pays the price for defrauding the public about his mortality. His punishment makes metaphorical sense, but since it doesn't make practical sense it works in the comedy.
Now, this is still an inside Hollywood movie that will play to the few people who remember the wiezel phenomenon and get all the cameos, but for that niche market, it is quite clever. It may not play to the remaining fans of Bio Dome, but I think Shore was looking for a new audience anyway.
Pauly Shore is Dead is so clever that it's a shame it was shot on video, effectively ruling out a theatrical release. The film looks like a straight to video effort because it is shot so cheaply. Maybe it could have been transferred to film but it still would have looked like all those horrible "shot on DV" films like 28 Days Later and Tadpole. Unfortunately, the video market, no matter how big, won't do much to put Shore back on top.
The cameos are pretty amazing. Sure, you'd expect the likes of Kurt Loder, Carrot Top, Todd Bridges and Paris Hilton, but guys like Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn only do each other's movies, so that's a coup. And Sean Penn, wow!
Pauly Shore is Dead is above average for a straight to video movie, and way above average for a celebrity vanity project. If Shore can make more little self-reflexive movies like this, he may find his comeback after all.