Bio-Dome (1996)

“There is something about a man who can lick his own back.”

Justin’s Rating: A year locked up with Pauly Shore is cruel and unusual punishment indeed

Justin’s Review: Say what you will about Bio-Dome, but I make one solemn promise to you. It’s the only film in existence that has Stephen Baldwin eating Pauly Shore’s toenails right off Pauly’s feet. And out of all of the cinematic instances I’ve ever witnessed, this scene has stuck with me day after day, hour after hour, until sometimes it’s all I can see when I close my eyes to sleep at night. Yes, I feel your pity, but that doesn’t help me sleep without screaming, does it? DOES IT?

Seeing as how every staff member here at Mutant Reviewer flees the room when I try to assign Pauly Shore flicks, clucking like the chickens they are, it falls on my broad shoulders to tackle the Mt. Everest of tackiness. I’m like Frodo, tasked with a quest that I didn’t ask for, but at least I have a wizened manniquin and a magical pug to help me on my journey. In any case, I figure I should probably work out all past demons and get the Shore movies behind me. Plus, some day when my grandson comes waddling up to me clutching an ancient VHS copy of Jury Duty and a hurt, accusing look in his eyes, I’ll be able to explain how vulnerable society was back then that such a travesty was allowed to happen.

Usually when people choose a Pauly Shore enterprise to mock and blame, it’s Bio-Dome. It wasn’t because Pauly was better or worse in it than his other movies, it’s just that the public, who had uneasily approved of Encino Man and Son In Law, reached their limit here. It was just too much Shore, too much stupidity, and too much pay for a guy who might still be in remedial kindergarten. So the world stood united as it took out its paddle and gave Bio-Dome a righteous spanking, effectively halting Shore’s career post-1996 and paving the way for Adam Sandler’s rise to glory.

Maybe it wasn’t so bad, after all. Consider this: Bio-Dome contains healthy portions of William Atherton with a mullet, Kylie Minogue, Joey Lauren Adams, Rose McGowan, AND the cult band Tenacious D (with Jack Black). Doesn’t that make you want to see it now? Oh. You may want to read my review of the movie before making that call.

Bio-Dome follows the typical paper-thin stylings of a comedy setup. You have your standard Durrr Duo, Bud (Shore) and Doyle (Baldwin), best friends for life because the judge ruled that it was either that or being buried alive in a tar pit. Through extreme ineptitude, these stupid buddies get stupidly trapped inside a sealed bio-dome for an entire year because they think it’s a new mall. They end up living aside with five other actors who were trapped in their own private hells as they had to first act like all serious and stuff for Shore and Baldwin’s wackiness to play off of, and then finally convert over to the dark side and “lighten up” so they weren’t “The Man.”

Bud acts like typical Shore; which is to say, he’s nuttier than Andy Dick in rehab, fluttering his hands and face while making barely legible comments and giggling. Doyle isn’t much better, as he’s a cross between Brendan Fraser from Encino Man (with the dreads and the caveman mentality) and… well… a desperate Baldwin brother.

While it’s positively quaint to rag on the clichés of horror and romance films — particularly after we’ve done it at Mutant Reviewers — no one seems to call the comedy genre on the same-old, same-old tactics they employ. How about everyone other than the leads falling into two categories: either being huge fans of the main characters, or being complete tools and mean and grumpy for no reason? How about how they make far-out scenarios plausible with the most flimsy of setups? Or how there’s always, always a big party at the end with loud music and all secondary characters either stop being tools and ask forgiveness, or get their comeuppance? How about how no one ever pulls out a gun and plugs people this annoying? Hey, not doing something can be a cliché too.

Once Bud and Doyle have been as completely jerky as they can manage without directly farting on the principal cast’s mothers’ faces, they trash the Dome with a huge party, and then finally decide to be good and save it all and some other nonsense. Basically, it’s a great excuse to get a laugh out of the fact that an entire town — possibly the whole state of Arizona — is so nuts about this Bio-Dome that they constantly stand outside of the place and cheer for things like a sign stating “18%” of homeostasis. Which means nothing to you and I, but I assure you, it means a great deal to the mindless morons there. The desert has driven them completely batty.

Listen, I really do enjoy a dumb buddy movie when it is based on a foundation of humorock. Heck, I consider Dude, Where’s My Car? to be the ninth wonder of the freakin’ modern world. But when a film — like Bio-Dome — mistakes gross stupidity for laughter, then it’s just a little sad and a heap of pain. Still, Hudson Hawk was critically reviled, and that managed to survive long enough to find a happy home in my habitat, so I’m sure Bio-Dome has a special place. Not here, though. You got a guest room, it’s yours.

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