| April 18, 2015

I recently listened to an interview with Pauly Shore in which he talked about developing the character we all associate with him.  The idiotic, constantly befuddled clown that we see in movies like Bio-Dome, Son in Law, Encino Man, and even A Goofy Movie is the result of a lot of work on Shore’s part to create a character that people believe is real.  One has to imagine he takes some pride in how many people hate him as a performer and person simply because it means he’s done his job as an actor and convinced us that the character is representative of the actor.  I was a bit surprised to hear all this; even more so than when I found out the Woody Allen character is an invention of the ageing comedian and has very little to do with his real life personality.

Now, Bio-Dome is available for the first time on blu-ray and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to revisit the 90s comedy from my childhood with this new perspective I have now of Pauly Shore as a professional, hard-working performer trying to do his own thing for better or worse.  As I watched the film, I began to question if I’ve ever seen it.  It seems impossible that it slipped by without my at least sitting through it once, but not a single frame of the film was familiar.  This actually helped with my intention to watch it afresh.  Yes, the comedy is really broad and slapsticky, and it’s difficult to believe that there are people in the world quite as stupid as our two heroes, but the movie is a lot of fun, with an interesting supporting cast, and an important message.

I wouldn’t say I was laughing all the way through Bio-Dome.  But not being funny is not the worst sin a comedy can commit.  I’d rather sit through something like this that isn’t riotously funny but keeps my attention from start to finish than watch a boring comedy where nothing happens to further the story.  Bio-Dome may not be my type of comedy, but I enjoyed it for what it was, and found the relationship between Shore and Stephen Baldwin (The Usual Suspects) to be pleasantly familiar, organic, and genuine.  They felt like they were equally sharing the comedic load rather than forcing one to be the straight man while the other was the clown.  This made their shift to becoming the heroes and getting the bio-dome back on track much more believable as a storyline.

A lot of the supporting characters are great.  I can’t seem to ever recognize Kylie Minogue (Doctor Who) when she pops up in things, but I always like what she brings to the table.  Here, she’s smart, and cunning, but with a humanity that sets her apart from the other female scientist character played by Dara Tomanovich.  I found the casting of William Atherton to be one of the funniest things in the film considering his character arc seems him descend from the hero of the movie to the insane villain bent on destruction.  It seems like the actor, known for Die Hard and Ghostbusters may be incapable of playing anything but the villain, which he does amazingly.  I also really enjoyed Kevin West and Joey Lauren Adams in the film.  They were smaller roles, but they gave it their all and took this crazy little comedy very seriously.

Bio-Dome will not be remembered as one of the all time great films in history, but I imagine it will always find an audience who enjoys shutting their brains down for a couple of hours and relax with some mindless comedy.  The new blu-ray from Olive Films looks great but doesn’t contain any special features.

Available on April 21.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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