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Shot by actor/filmmaker Adrian Grenier (Vince in HBO’s Entourage), this 95-minute feature documentary is an exploration of the tenuous relationship between celebrities and the people who make a living selling their images. After a chance encounter with a 13-year-old paparazzo, Austin Visschedyk, Grenier takes a step back to think about the celebrity- obsessed culture that has produced the boy. Adrian starts hanging out with the young photographer, learning the tricks of the trade, as well as what made the precocious teen want to spend his free time running around looking for celebrities and trying to get that “perfect shot.”
You can't accuse Adrian Grenier of being unaware of the ironies directing this movie. During his documentary Teenage Paparazzo, he makes ample references to the looking-glass fact that he himself is a pretty-boy actor who stars in a TV series about the craziness and rewards of fame (Entourage), who is making a film about the camera-toting insects who also feed off the great celebrity machine. He's taken for his central figure a 13-year-old paparazzo named Austin Visschedyk; so arresting was the sight of this tiny kid clamoring for his photograph that Grenier decided to focus on the boy as the subject of his documentary--a way of exploring why a child would be so obsessed with celebrity culture these days, and what that says about us, and… you know. Teenage Paparazzo is less successful as a piece of social inquiry than it is a profile of this specific kid, although Grenier does get a collection of grown-up paparazzi on record about why they do what they do, most of which comes down to a "We have to pay our bills, too" rationalization. One longtime photographer lets it slip how much he would die to be in Grenier's own movie-star shoes, a rare moment of authentic envy showing through. Grenier also brings in some of the big names of celeb culture, including a reliably clueless Paris Hilton (and, inevitably, Perez Hilton), Eva Longoria, and Brooke Shields. More jaundiced and articulate observers, such as Matt Damon and Alec Baldwin, give the goods on what it's like to be swarmed by paparazzi. All this adds up to not much more than you'd probably already known about the phenomenon, except for the very personalized spectacle of Austin running around the streets of L.A. at night, wondering whether Lindsay Lohan might be exiting a restaurant somewhere. And that is indeed a sobering sight. --Robert Horton
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Nonetheless, this movie provides superb insights into the psychology of media consumption. I'd already read Thomas de Zengotita's book, "Mediated," and found it quite good. The fact that the book was the inspiration for this film and that the film did a very good job of illustrating de Zengotita's arguments was an unexpected and pleasant surprise.
I also did not expect the Hollywood lead, Adrian Grenier (of "Entourage" fame), to be so articulate and conversant with the subject matter, which was also a pleasant surprise. Emotionally, the best part of the film is its last 5 minutes, which I will not give away here. But suffice to say, had life not turned out as it had, I wonder if the film would ever have been commercially released.
The documentary examines this individual relationship as a micro-causem of fame and celebrities status. The film covers all points of view, from street interviews to great interviews with academics. Grenier's view as very interesting, having made his fame playing a fictional movie-superstar.
I loved this, but I am a huge Entourage fan and interested in anything about "the business" of the business and all aspects of it. I would say for a small niche audience, this is a great film and am unsure how it would be received by the masses. If you are interested in the concept of Entourage, the actors and are interested in fame, celebrity and and our obsession with them, definitely watch this.
Besides Austin, the 14-year-old paparazzo, being a perfect subject for the film, the interviews and examples included were perfect. There was never a dull moment.
With Teenage Paparazzo, Grenier showed he has talent behind the camera, not just in front of it. Can't wait to see what he comes out with next!