It’s a shame that Pauly Shore and his films have often been the target for ridicule. Sure, you won’t take a look at his IMDB and find anything Academy Award-worthy, or “Certified Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. They really are kind of silly. Several of them have questionable moments of political incorrectness. But at the same time, chances are there will be at least one or two titles that will make you smile, bring back fond memories from years ago, or even evoke a quotable line or two. There’s something in that stupidity that can be enjoyable and refreshing, especially in the current climate where we tend to take everything so seriously. It’s also pretty incredible looking at the star-studded comedic talent that appears in the films. Which only makes sense, given Shore’s storied pedigree in the comedy scene and his mother’s ownership of The Comedy Store in Los Angeles.
JURY DUTY (1995)
Having served on several Los Angeles juries over the years, I would often find myself day-dreaming about Pauly Shore’s completely bonkers turn at civic duty. Sadly, I never was sequestered. Which means I never had the opportunity to upgrade my basic hotel room to a suite and live a life of jury duty luxury. The closest that I’ve come to living out Shore’s version of Jury Duty was being stuck on a panel with someone who I swear was dragging out deliberations purposefully just as Shore’s character Tommy (aka “Juror #6”) attempts. There’s so much to love in this film. Abe Vigoda (The Godfather, Late Night with Conan O’Brien) as the judge. Zucker Brothers reminiscent heightened and cartoonish direction by John Fortenberry, who comes from a background of Kids in the Hall and A Night at the Roxbury. And, last but certainly not least, a totally implausible relationship between Shore and a fellow attractive juror, played by Wayne’s World’s Tia Carrere that comes to its pinnacle during an acid-trip of a third act.
ENCINO MAN (1992)
Absolutely no pun intended, but Encino Man definitely feels like a movie of another time. Like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Airheads, or Dumb and Dumber, Encino Man was repeated required viewing as a kid my age. It was one of those VHS tapes that were frequently rented on a Friday night before friends were coming over. Sean Astin’s interaction with Shore as his eccentric best friend is a whole lot of fun. Brendan Fraser as “Link” gives a delightfully over the top performance. And a particularly memorable scene in a convenience store where Shore introduces his new caveman friend to the four food groups of “grindage” (Milk Duds, SweetTarts, Corn Nuts, and Frozen Burritos) continues to be in my pop culture lexicon to this day. And yes, as any great goofy comedy should have, there’s a dance scene.
Admittedly, the inspiration for this article is Bio-Dome. Out of the above titles, this is the film that I seem to revisit the most. The use of Men Without Hats’ Safety Dance as psychological torture for the dome residents, and the resulting montage showing their progress sure is a lot of fun. There are so many great supporting roles in Bio-Dome as well. Henry Gibson (The Blues Brothers, The Burbs, Innerspace) is always a delight. Jack Black and Kyle Gass’ Tenacious D shows up for a brief stint as hippies pleading for the environment. Plus, I have such a soft-spot for Ghostbusters and Die Hard’s William Atherton, who can always play the heavy like no other actor. The radical hairstyle he sports in this film makes it worth a watch alone.