The popular stand-up comic leaves Hollywood for Africa in this hilarious DVD out June 15th
Pauly Shore has weased through his fair share of ups and downs as a Hollywood celebrity over the course of the past two decades. After a string of moderately successful comedies in the early 90s, the stand-up comic seemed destined for obscurity and life as a nothing more than a Trivial Pursuit question. Restless and tired of waiting for that comeback phone call to come in, Pauly put it all on the line by faking his own death, and then recounting the consequences in 2004's Pauly Shore is Dead. Self-financed and produced DIY-style, Shore created an instant cult classic and found a new life for himself in front of the camera. Which has led to a fan favorite stint on the popular HBO series Entourage and a lead role in the upcoming Disney film Opposite Day. On June 15th, he returns to the world of directing himself on-screen in the oddly sweet, yet quite unnerving documentary Adopted, a jam-packed DVD that finds the comedian heading to Africa with dashed hopes of adopting a child. Wanting to follow in the footsteps of such famous moms as Madonna and Angelina Jolie, its Pauly's plans to redeem himself as both a person and a tabloid fixture by taking home an impoverished son or daughter and giving them a better life. This being Pauly Shore, of course things don't quite go according to plan.
We recently called Pauly to chat with him about the movie. Here is our conversation:
You'd originally told me about this film way back when you were out promoting Pauly Shore is Dead. What sort of behind the scenes journey did you have to go through in getting this film completed? And why did it take you five years to get this DVD into my hands?
Pauly Shore: It hasn't been five years. I started in late 2007. That's when I was in South Africa. I don't remember ever having that conversation with anyone. I didn't come up with this idea until I got down there. I don't remember ever talking about this film before that. Maybe I told the idea to someone as a joke. But I don't ever, ever, ever, ever remember talking about it that far back. This was shot in late 2007. I went to do stand-up in South Africa. Once I got down there, that's when I came up with the idea. Maybe I said it as a joke. I don't know.
It seems to me that I've been waiting forever for this movie to come out. I finally got to see it last night. Can you talk about the journey you went through? And about collecting all of the footage? Was this a long process? Or did it all happen over the course of a week, like we see it play out in the film?
Pauly Shore: I shot it all in about two weeks. I was down there touring, and I would shoot the film during the day, and do my shows late at night. Once I got down there, I hired a production staff. We hired a crew. We did the sound. We hired the cast, with the kids. We location scouted. I storyboarded the whole thing in my hotel room, so that we had a beginning, middle, and end. There was some direction as far as where I wanted to go. I wanted to make the film half-mocku, half-docu. We shot a lot of stuff on the streets, and all of that stuff is real. But there's also some stuff that is set up, you know?
Were you pressured to put the adoption disclaimer on the end of the film? Or was that genuinely coming from you as a person?
Pauly Shore: It's a serious subject. We are making light of this serious subject matter. We needed to definitely make people aware of that. Even though I am making fun of it. This is a very serious thing, but I'm the type of comic who likes to talk about subjects that may be a little taboo.
The great thing about the film is that it feels real at every given turn. Most "mockumentaries" have this sheen of acting that clues you in right away that it's indeed fake. This film doesn't have that. How did you get such raw performances out of every single person we see on screen?
Pauly Shore: Because when you shoot something overseas, they're very much naive about the cameras. There is a looseness and a freeness that comes along with shooting in a place that is not used to cameras. We wouldn't be able to pull something off like this in America. We wouldn't get those reactions and those performances out of people here. It was important that I had a barebones crew. There weren't any production trucks. None of that shit. It was just me, the few people I was working with. My two shooters. And one sound guy. I kept the PAs away from me. I wanted to keep it very guerilla. I wanted it to have that feeling. So when you watch it, you have to wonder, "Is this really happening?"
Where did you find these kids? And were you ever worried that you were setting them up for a world of disappointment? Or were they in on the joke the whole time?
Pauly Shore: Yes. They were cast by an agency out here. We cast looking for young, African kids who had acted before. They had some commercial experience, or something of that nature on their resumes. We would sit there and watch them. I'd go, "Let me fuck with them. Let me read with them or improv with them." I'd see if I vibed with them or not. Once we cast the kids, we created the characters around them. We had the chubby kid in the bathtub. Losing the one kid because I misplaced him for the other kid. The one girl steals from me. It all worked like that.
The one tell-tale sign that gives the whole movie away is that your cameraman is with the kids when certain "bad" things are happening to them. Did you want to include those scenes to ease minds that, "Hey, this isn't real. Calm down for a minute!"
Pauly Shore: Yeah. There are a lot of moments like that in the film. Where the camera is in places that it wouldn't be. It goes back to the traditional mockumentary feel. Again, at the end of the day, when you are shooting in a place as authentic as Africa, you are going to get more real stuff. People didn't know who I was. They weren't like, "Here comes Pauly!"
But even the scene in the wild animal park, where you spot a woman on the bus tour behind you. And you ditch the kid to meet her for drinks. Then she ditches you. That felt so incredibly of the moment. It didn't seem fake or set up at all. But that type of stuff is actually scripted?
Pauly Shore: Yes. That is a mix of reality and fantasy. That woman is my best friend and she works for the producer of the film. You have to tell a story at the end of the day. You have to have a beginning, middle, and end. We had to create a reason why I go back to the hotel room by myself so I can bath him.
Even though you say I am wrong about you wanting to make this movie as far back as 2004, you had publicly announced that you were making this film a few years before Bruno was ever in the works. Were you at all disappointed that particular film got to the subject matter first? And were you a little relieved when it bombed, knowing that it wouldn't feel as though you were ripping off that particular franchise?
Pauly Shore: Oh, yeah. Everything you just said, for sure. I was relieved their whole movie wasn't about him adopting an African child. If you watch Bruno, him adopting a black child was just part of the movie. My whole film is more real. It takes place completely in Africa. And it actually has more heart. I've never been the shock comic. I'm not like Johnny Knoxville or Bruno, or Tom Green. I'm not here to freak people out. My comedy comes from more of a real, subtle place. It comes from a place where you don't know if I am joking. Or not.
Yes, that is exactly what I was going to say. The interesting thing in comparing Bruno with Adopted is that you never once go for the gross out gag, and the more unsettling elements seem to flow out of the narrative quite naturally. The movie is quite sweet and despite some squirmy moments, quite likable. Do you think that sweetness is something that is just inherent in you?
Pauly Shore: Yes. It was my focus not to make the film all grotesque and rude. I didn't want it to be disrespectful. But you have to have a couple of those elements in there, so you can make it rated R. So then it becomes a thing where you are, "Oh, shit! I have to check it out!" Now, if the movie was just sweet and heartfelt, it would be watered down. Who cares? You want to watch it thinking, "Ah, fuck! What is this guy going to do?"
That's the surprising thing about the movie. You see the DVD cover and you're thinking, "Jesus? What is this about?" And the film does have its off moments that will have any morally intact individual cringing. But at the end of the day, you realize that its quite thoughtful in what it is. That turns out to be the surprising thing. And that's what would make me recommend it to my friends. It's the flip side of some of that more garish stuff we're seeing today. It's actually quite refreshing.
Pauly Shore: Yeah, I hope so. For me, I am not as big as Adam Sandler. And I don't have a studio spending millions of dollars on this film just to make people aware of it. For me, like Pauly Shore is Dead, these are small films. Unfortunatly. Fortunately, they are small films at the same time. Because I didn't have fifty people telling me what to do. How to make it. I didn't have this committee telling me what to cut out and put back in. I created this by myself. You get that when you get to work alone. You don't have that watered down feeling. But, the negative is that you're not able to get it out there as much, and it's hard to give people the knowledge that they should see it. You know what I mean?
Yes. But reflecting back on some of the more squirmy scenes in the film...You do touch these kids quite a bit. Why do you think you get away with it when 98% of the male population your age never would. If Michael Jackson had done what you are doing in this film, we would have never heard the end of it.
Pauly Shore: I think I have a sincere innocence about me. That I would never do anything off the line. The parents were always there on set. And this is the way I am. I'm a kid. I'm an "on my own" kid. Kids like that, because they feel comfortable around me. Because I am a goofball. When I squeeze their cheeks and play with them, that's what you do with your niece and nephew. That is what you do with your kids. You play with kids. That's what you do. That's what they are for. You take them to the park. You chase them around the grass. And its real. It's not fake. I have that kind of connection with kids. I love kids.
How did your journey affect or change your viewpoint on adoption and what Angelina and Madonna have done in the past?
Pauly Shore: I can't speak for them, because I'm not in their bodies. I don't know why they want to do this. I am sure they have their reasons. The thing I learned from it, which I'm sure you remember from the film, is that, "Why do people from America, whether they are celebrities or not, go to Africa to adopt children when you can adopt unwanted children in America?" You saw that guy in the street? I thought he hit an interesting point. That was real. I didn't set that up or anything. The thing I came away with, if I came away with anything at all, is that if you want to help out the African children, send them money, send them food, send them clothes. Send them school supplies. Get them an education. Similar to what Oprah Winfrey is doing. She has found the right thing to do. Don't take the kid out of Africa. Leave the kid there. But support them through sending them stuff. Image if you were born in Los Angeles, and you were three years old. And this African family comes and gets you, and takes you to Africa. They say, "We're going to give you a better life." You're like, "All right." You get there, and you are seven or eight, and you are going, "What the fuck is this? I want to go back to Los Anegles. That's where my family is." But they're going, "We don't give a fuck! You are home!" Part of me thinks that in some sense it will backfire. Or it won't. Maybe Maddox and all of them will be like, "Yo! Brad and Angelina? I know you are my parents, but I still want to go home." They'll go check it out, but they'll want to come back because they are now American citizens. I think what Oprah Winfrey is doing is pretty cool. If you are a celebrity, and you have millions and millions of dollars, I do think you should donate money to third world countries and help them out. But again, I am not these people. I can't really give my opinion on what makes those people feel its okay to go over there and adopt kids. There might be something bigger behind it that we don't know about.
In these past two films, you've proven that you are best when you are playing yourself. What is the next Pauly Shore movie you plan on directing? And do you think you'll ever do a Crazy Heart turn and shock everybody with a dramatic performance, or an Eddie Murphy steals Dreamgirls performance?
Pauly Shore: The next thing I am working on is an MTV show. It's something that has never been done before on TV. Not on MTV, for sure. It's a cross between The Osbournes and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Its called The Shorez. It's a make-believe family. Once again, people will watch the show and not know if it's real or fake. The way I want to produce the show is for people to see this and go, "Why wouldn't this be his family?" I get back together with my 1992 Playboy Playmate girlfriend. She has two kids from a previous marriage. I have two kids. We've been seeing each other, and we decide to try it again fifteen years later. We move into a modest house in the valley. The show is really about the four kids. My wife is a cougar. And I am still in the entertainment business, but I am going to give this father thing a shot. I want to be there for my kids now, because I wasn't there for them in the past. My kids are like, "It's a little too fucking late, dad! I'm almost eighteen." My wife's kids look at me like, "You are not my real dad!" And on and on. It's that type of shit.
You and Odwa share such on-screen chemistry in Adopted, are you going to bring some of that magic into the TV show? I know I want to see more of the two of you.
Pauly Shore: I would like to do that. Odwa was great.
The stuff between you guys is so funny. I loved it.
Pauly Shore: That's so great to hear. Did you get to check out the new stuff on Funny or Die with Anderson Cooper? You should go and look at that. It's pretty funny. We have another one coming out next week where I'm on Oprah Winfrey. Send people to Funny or Die to see these clips, because they are pretty funny. And I'm glad you liked the film, bro!
Adopted arrives on DVD June 15th, 2010.