Teenage Paparazzo – DVD Review

To call Adrian Grenier a full-fledged A-list celebrity would be partially true in only one real strict definition of the term: he plays one on television. As Vincent Chase in Entourage Grenier has played an A-list actor but is perhaps best known outside of it for the teen comedy Drive Me Crazy and as Anne Hathaway’s boyfriend in The Devil Wears Prada. When Entourage concludes its final season in 2011, Grenier will be a star without a home. But if he really wanted to he could be the next great documentary film-maker. The proof is in his second film, Teenage Parazzo, a personal film following his directorial documentary debut Shot in the Dark (about his quest at finding his biological father).

Grenier has been a star long enough to be followed regularly by paparazzi stalking his every move when he spots 13-year-old Austin Visschedyk stalking him with the rest of the crowd. Fascinated by the young child, Grenier takes a personal interest and follows Visschedyk around. Exploring the world of the Paparazzo from within, Grenier is guided by Visschedyk through their world by balancing it out with interviews from within his own. Bringing in cast mates from Entourage as well as various other celebrities that Grenier knows on a personal level to give the celebrity side of the paparazzi-celebrity symbiotic relationship while he explores the seedier side of Hollywood’s fame machine.

With his own celebrity stature taking away any sort of neutrality from the film, Grenier does the smart thing and inserts himself into the film from the start. While some documentarians do it because of the size of their egos being larger than their girth ala Michael Moore, Grenier can’t be behind the camera as an impartial observer because he’s not quite super-famous but he’s famous enough to be a distraction in any capacity. Thus he embraces the role not because he wants to be some sort of wannabe provocateur but because he almost has to.

It gives Teenage Paparazzo more weight because this is Grenier walking that fine line between artist and actor, of creating something and starring in someone else’s work, and he’s a part of what he’s exploring to make it even more difficult. Grenier is up for the challenge and was well-prepared throughout the film. He’s not coasting by because of his fame; he took the project very seriously and it shows. As he examines everything about Austin’s life, including his reasons for getting into the paparazzi lifestyle, one can tell that Grenier gained a newfound perspective on fame.

He also delves into the seedy side and how tabloid journalism has crossed the line from fringe to more mainstream. With many famous photographers, including the men behind some of the most famous photographs of the 1970s, now taking pictures of celebrities for a living he delves into how this sort of paparazzi has become something credible in the field. There’s a high level discussion of the media and society’s relationship today that Grenier explores and one wishes he could spend an entire documentary on it. He brings out some fascinating insights into it, if almost unintentionally, as he explores how the world of celebrity has changed. There’s a brilliant film about the nature of celebrity in Grenier, one imagines, because of how much he explores that concept and themes around it throughout this film.

Teenage Paparazzo is the sort of small, personal film a guy like Adrian Grenier can make without really having to change careers. If this is a sign to come it’ll be interesting to see what he does next, to say the least.

Presented in a 16:9 widescreen format with a Dolby Digital format, the film has a great transfer. The film doesn’t demand nor warrant a great a/v experience, and doesn’t provide it

Snap Shots are extended & deleted scenes. They don’t add much back into the film.

With Entourage coming to an end in 2011, Adrian Grenier’s time in the spotlight might be coming to an end. But a second career as a documentarian might not be a bad idea if Teenage Paparazzo is any indication of his skills in that department.

HBO Films presents Teenage Paparazzo. Directed by and starring Adrien Grenier. Running time: 95 minutes. Rating: NR. Released on DVD: March 29, 2011.