In early 2021, Ain't Nobody Cool teamed up with Pauly Shore for a collab. Among the collection was a pair of shorts collaged in black and white images of the Weasel himself, punctuated with a bright red drawstring to perfectly offset the monochromatic photos. I couldn’t press the "BUY NOW" button fast enough. But why? I hadn’t seen a new Pauly project in years. He last toured Australia over a decade ago, and you bet your arse I was there! He killed. It was awesome, but... even his movies that I love and know by heart are still a mystery to my ignorant partner of eight years, despite constantly promising we’ll watch them together. Why the delay? Okay, so I don’t know where my relationship with Pauly Shore is going, but I certainly know how we got here - and where it all began.
When you grow up with not one but two older siblings, the term “age appropriate” goes out the window when it comes to those times spent together. I’ve been obsessed with Quentin Tarantino since I was nine, I moshed at Pearl Jam concerts at 12, and my sister and I had screaming matches at 13 when I swore it wasn’t me who took her Hole CD (*wink*). So in 1992, it wasn’t out of the ordinary that a 7-year-old Jess saw and loved ‘Encino Man’. I know what you’re thinking - ”But Jess, it’s a PG movie. You were fine to see it.” Sure, a PG movie would be fine to see now, but 30 years ago a child in Year 1 running around screaming “Betty Nugs” was not so common. Hilarious, but not common. Pauly was a fresh, exciting and frenetic assault to the senses. Before ‘Encino Man’, Australians were not privy to his MTV exploits. Between the hair, the clothes, the unique vernacular and his insistence that he was "The Weasel" - who howled? - it was hard to understand that it was, in fact, Brendan Fraser’s character who was the odd one out and not Shore. But he had youth appeal written all over him, and appeal he did. ‘Encino Man’ was a hit that went on to achieve cult classic status in the years and decades that followed.
'ENCINO MAN' TRAILER
The fish out of water. The nerds yearning to be cool and popular. Standing up to bullies. And a good old fashioned American prom. What’s not to love? To grasp? To hang on to for dear life!? For 30 years and counting, I’ve referred to brains as "melons", food as "grindage", know unequivocally that Sweet Tarts are a member of the fruit group, and I’ve wanted to stick my face under a Slurpee machine so bad and go to town, all because of this movie. And one day, god willing, I’ll bloody do it! I suspect it’ll be in my 70s when attempting this wild and totally unhygienic act as my antics will simply be chalked up to senility. But I digress. Just one year later, Pauly returned in ‘Son in Law’, arguably my favourite of his films. His acting chops weren’t exactly stretched here either. Shore essentially played the same character, just toned down a smidge and with some more humility and righteousness, which is probably why I loved him so much in this. Brendan Fraser returned for a brief, wordless cameo to appease fans - the first of two he would inevitably do for Pauly, the third being in 1994’s ‘In The Army Now’.
Pauly was a fresh, exciting and frenetic assault to the senses.
These days, my Pauly Shore fandom only extends as far as my arm, being his often-funny rants on his Instagram feed. But I do limit my viewing as, especially in these last few years, some have some pretty strong feelings and opinions about things that should really remain private. However, my loyalty remains, as does the question: why? Is it simply nostalgia? Pauly Shore was a pivotal and prominent figure in my adolescence. Is it his mum and my obsession with The Comedy Store and the stand up comedy scene of old? Is it because he is unapologetically himself? Pauly’s childhood was less than typical (whatever “typical” means), and his personality in the 90s and now reflects that. You can’t help but give him props. He knew who he was, he knows who he is, he doesn’t try to change it or apologise for it. He’s aware of his strengths and weaknesses, and he also knows he has a legion of loyal fans across the globe because of it.
Love him, hate him or curse his ineffability, Pauly Shore undeniably has “it” and it has served him well. 30 years after he smashed it out the park in ‘Encino Man’, we’re still talking about it - and him - with love and revelry. There’s no expiry date on charisma.