Not even Pauly Shore‘s fans were prepared for how good this new film is.
A quarter-century after “The Weasel” popped on MTV and more than a decade after he stopped becoming a reliable box-office star, Shore spent much of his personal and professional capital making light of his status through multiple mockumentary TV series, specials and movies. He finally drops the facade in his latest documentary, Pauly Shore Stands Alone, which debuted this month on Showtime.
Pauly Shore Stands Alone lets us know what it’s really like to be the young son of the Shore family, caring for an ailing comedy club legend of a mother while also tending to his own fan base that still fills hundreds of seats in cities and small towns alike.
Here is a clip of Shore reminiscing about his 1990s wardrobe and how nostalgia is bringing it all back to where he started: Rummaging through his mother’s closet.
It opens with him in Dallas in 1992, playing a packed theater as “The Weasel.” It then jumps forward to the present-day, 2014, with Shore in West Hollywood doing press interviews over the phone for a planned weeklong tour of Midwest comedy clubs and barrooms. We see he’s leasing the house high up in the Hollywood Hills that he showed off just a couple of years ago in a previous documentary as his primary residence. In fact, he’s back in with his mother, The Comedy Store owner Mitzi Shore, who has a full-time caretaker in addition to Pauly when he’s out on the road. But he wants to sell Mitzi’s house to raise money and also pay for her care in her remaining years as she deals with Parkinson’s.
“What the road does is it gives me that kind of like unconditional love with the fans, and with the people, and with human beings,” Shore says early in this doc. “Because I don’t have the wife and kids. And I don’t have the parents around anymore as much. And I don’t have the brothers and sisters around anymore as much. But as human beings, we all need that love, we need that (magic), you know what I mean. So that’s part of why I love to do the road.”
This is not the Pauly I remember partying with in Tempe in 2002. Not that he wouldn’t still take another night like that if you offered it to him. He does get hungover in Minneapolis. Not a spoiler alert. I don’t want to spoil any of this for you, really. But having his documentary — which Pauly executive produced and directed, too — premiere the same weekend as Bill Burr’s new Netflix special is equal parts fortuitous and serendipitous. Bravo, Showtime.
This white-light experience for Shore’s fans and Shore himself is a long time coming.
For it had been a lifetime in show business years since Shore’s star had peaked with MTV and a string of box-office successes in the mid-1990s (Encino Man, Son in Law, In the Army Now, Jury Duty, Bio-Dome) that hit each year until a chance at sitcom stardom went bust with Pauly in 1997.
He spent the better part of the 2000s playing off his has-beenness and attempts at going home and coming back again. He joked about literally dying with 2003’s Pauly Shore is Dead, and came out with his own prank-style mockumentary in 2009’s Adopted. In between, he mocked the idea of taking over his mom’s famous club, The Comedy Store, with “reality” TV offering Minding The Store on TBS. In real life, he was in embroiled in a lawsuit with brother Peter over the Store.
But the public saw Shore’s Weasel as Peter Pan schtick continue through a sketch-comedy TV movie, a variety special, and even a mock campaign and tack into political comedy with 2012’s Pauly-Tics (for which I interviewed him).
Pauly Shore Stands Alone truly and sincerely peels back the curtains to reveal his true self and his relationship with his fans and his family.
As he drives himself around Wisconsin and Minnesota on his own mini-Tribble Run of sorts (who is the Midwest equivalent of Tribble, anyhow?), going to small towns between Milwaukee and Minneapolis where even they don’t know or expect to see a star of his caliber. The tour connects dots on a map. It’s practical and sound business.
It’s also a powerful reminder as well as a testament to the power stars and fans have on each other. You or I may have written Pauly Shore off years ago. Much like we learned this month during the hack of Sony that their execs even wrote off a big star like Adam Sandler two years and a few movies ago! But people who grew up on Pauly’s movies still have an adoration for them and him. The pull of nostalgia is great on all of us.
Which idea came first: The small-town Midwestern comedy tour or the documentary? It doesn’t really matter now. Perhaps we can just be grateful that it did happen. Certainly makes me more likely to listen to his new podcast.
He dedicates this documentary to people dealing with dying parents and loved ones. Mitzi is heard but not seen onscreen. She remains a survivor of Parkinson’s for now. Pauly says she has survived. He could have said persevered. He also could have ascribed that to himself.
As he says in the film: “Comedy is my therapy. It helps me get through any of the hard times. People ask me all the time if I didn’t do stand-up, what would I do? I don’t know. As long as there’s a microphone and a stage and there’s people in those seats, I’m good.”
Pauly Shore Stands Alone is playing on Showtime through Jan. 29, 2015, on demand or via the Showtime Anytime app.