Video Fun with Biff
Thank God this is a college paper, because if you were any younger you may not remember the brilliant, poetic, subtle comedy of a truly talented artist named Pauly Shore. That’s right, kids, “The Weasel.” Biff fondly recalls coming home from school to watch this master at his craft, introducing metal videos on MTV’s “Totally Pauly.” At the time, the only TV personality that gave Pauly competition in the area of subtle genius was “USA Up All Night” host Gilbert Gottfried. It was like an early ’90s version of the rivalry between Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Like Chaplin used “The Gold Rush” to set himself atop of the comedy mountain, Pauly Shore used his 1992 debut film, “Encino Man,” to forever silence the debate.
If you are not familiar with Pauly Shore, he basically dressed like a new-age hippy (think Lenny Kravitz) and used an abundance of catch phrases such as “buddy” and “I’m the Weasel” while delivering them in a very stoner-esque tone. In fact, his name in “Encino Man” is “Stoney.” Fitting. “Encino Man,” the tale of a caveman frozen and then unfrozen in southern California, also marked the film debut of another young star, a man named Brendan Fraser. He is not funny. The film’s highlight is the comic interplay between co-stars Sean Astin and Pauly Shore, both on top of their game in this film. If you know anything about Biff, it is that he loves Sean Astin. Even Bill and Ted could never come up with genius California stoner lines like, “He’s got the buff spikes chillin’ on top of his melon.” The man is an artist.
Pauly’s next movie was “Son in Law.” However, Biff is so excited about Shore’s third film that he just can’t wait. Director Daniel Petrie Jr., who brought us the magnificent Sean Astin thriller “Toy Soldiers,” strikes gold again in 1994 with “In the Army Now.” Check out this ensemble cast: “Tank Girl” herself Lori Petty, “In Living Color” star David Alan Grier, the ever-lovable Andy Dick, and, of course, our main man, Pauly Shore. Like Chaplin and his film “City Lights,” many consider “In the Army Now” to be the pinnacle of Shore’s work. It has all the makings of a true film classic: a brilliant cast, more-than-competent direction, witty dialogue, and, of course, Pauly Shore. For the film, Shore shaves off his trademark curly hair and halfway drops the stoner guy persona. This time his name is “Bones” and he’s not “The Weasel.” Instead, he’s a “Craaaaazy Boy.” Yes, a daring departure indeed. Shore and Dick join the army and then are forced into combat, where Shore falls for Petty and they all learn a lot about friendship and love and blah, blah, blah. Trust Biff on this one. Tear up that acceptance letter to film school. Instead, rent “In the Army Now,” watch it vigorously, and repeat. Biff saw it twice in the theater. True story.
Like Chaplin’s “Modern Times,” Shore’s follow up to his piece de resistance that is “In the Army Now” was arguably just as good. Of course Biff is talking about “Jury Duty.” Here, Shore is a juror named “Tommy” who refuses to find the defendant guilty so he won’t have to give up his hotel room. It’s kind of a parody of “12 Angry Men.” Kind of. This is Shore at his best, acting off of a great supporting cast that includes Stanley Tucci, Tia Carrere and Abe Vigoda. Unfortunately, this was Pauly’s last truly great film. Sure, the next year he turned out “Bio-Dome,” but this saw Pauly taking a huge step back into Weasel-land. His character was named “Bud,” and he dudes it up with the incredibly miscast Stephen Baldwin. This was the last of Shore’s films to ever hit the big screen.
What can be said for Pauly Shore? Like so many other misunderstood visionaries before him, such as Bobcat Goldthwait and Rick Moranis, Pauly was rejected by the very town that made him a star. Similar to Charlie Chaplin being banned from the United States in 1952, Shore was banned from movie screens. Alas, his comic genius can be kept alive thanks to video. His art was comedy, his canvas the screen. He will forever be “The Weasel.” Or a “Craaaaazy Boy.” They really are interchangeable when you get right down to it.