Plot: Tommy (Pauly Shore) still lives at home and while his mother (Shelley Winters) loves having him around the house, his father (Charles Napier) doesn’t share his wife’s perspective. After a disastrous audition to be an exotic dancer, Tommy is hit with a stern dose reality, as his father mandates that he either gets a real job or he has to move out. Of course, Tommy begins to panic, as he doesn’t want to become a responsible adult, but he knows he has to find a solution. While most people dislike jury duty, when Tommy is summoned to his civic duties, he jumps at the chance. This is because he learned that if the jury is sequestered, that means free room and board, which solves his little issue with his parents. So he gets excused from simple cases, hoping for a big one and he lands on the jury for the Drive-Thru Murderer case, one of the highest profile murder trials in the nation. Now he wants to keep the trial going as long as possible, but his fellow jurors are ready to convict, almost as soon as the closing arguments end. If he wants to keep the trial open, he will need to get serious and find some legal precedents, but will the hard work rub off on him?
Entertainment Value: I suspect that how people react to Jury Duty more or less depends on how they feel about Pauly Shore. I don’t see this one winning over any new fans for the comedian, but for those who appreciate his style of humor or silly 90s comedies in general, it will likely provide some laughs. The narrative is of course beyond ridiculous, but the movie doesn’t claim to have depth, it knows it is a light, brisk comedy and stays on that path. A little lesson is tacked on, as Shore’s character experiences some growth, but it is not heavy handed and come on, we all know Tommy will be back to pouring milk all over himself at some point. I have more appreciation of Shore’s work from the 90s now when revisiting these films, perhaps a little nostalgia or a current lack of b tier comedies like this one. Jury Duty isn’t as outlandish or humorous as some of Shore’s more colorful movies, but it does have some laughs and the cast is an impressive one, without question. In the end, this isn’t the kind of movie that’s going to bowl you over or change your life, but if you’re looking for a brisk, 90s fueled comedy, you could do a lot worse than this. If you’re a fan of Shore’s work, then it is an easy recommendation, as he brings his usual shtick in generous doses.
I know his reputation has improved a little over the decades since his 90s fame peak, but I still think Pauly Shore gets an unfair shake. His movies from this era weren’t comedy masterworks, but they had some charm and if nothing else, you knew what you were going to get. His performance in Jury Duty is in line with his usual routine, though he is a little more dialed down overall, especially as the movie rolls on. I have to think that was an effort to widen his appeal outside his established fan base, but it proved to be a mistake in terms of box office and lasting interest. If Shore had been set loose to go wild as usual, perhaps the movie would have at least been a hit with his regular crowd, but he is just a little too reined most of the time here. Even so, he offers flashes of the outlandish humor he was known for, especially toward the film’s start. I do love the supporting cast here as well, with a parade of talented performers ushered in to back him up. The cast also includes Tia Carrere, Charles Napier, Shelley Winters, Stanley Tucci, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Richard Riehle. That is a colorful, skilled ensemble by any definition and the movie benefits from all that talent.
The Disc: Mill Creek Entertainment has issued Jury Duty on Blu-ray as part of their 90s retro line, complete with a colorful VHS inspired slipcover. The movie looks good in this treatment, with a clean image throughout and little debris, while detail is solid, if not all that remarkable. The colors are bright, but natural and contrast seems accurate, while I didn’t see any digital problems whatsoever. A competent upgrade over the DVD editions, so fans should be pleased. No extras.