Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Your finger's in my alley!

I was very excited to see Brüno because I loved Borat so much. I think that Sacha Baron Cohen is a comedic genius, and in Borat (and on his show Da Ali G Show) he shows that over-the-top humor can also be pointedly satirical and brilliant.

Brüno, however, was neither pointedly satirical nor brilliant. In fact, in retrospect, I don't even think I liked it.

Now don't get me wrong: the movie had some very funny scenes, though nothing that induced stomach-hurting laughter like Borat did. One of many problems with Brüno is that the whole movie does not come together very well. Instead it is like a series of little skits, some funny, others remarkably unfunny.

One of the best scenes involves Brüno talking to a bunch of stage parents who want their babies filmed. This scene really is sharp and funny and disturbing. But it has nothing to do with the rest of the movie.

Brüno substitutes shock for humor, and the shock value gets old very fast. In fact, some of what is apparently played for shock value is only shocking if you're shocked by two men making out. Some people claim that Brüno is exposing America's homophobia, but I don't see that as the case. You cannot thrust someone as aggressive, crude, stupid, and obnoxious as Brüno into the faces of small town people and necessarily attribute their discomfort to homophobia. Brüno creates discomfort not because he is gay but because he is obnoxious and lewd. So in the end, what is Sacha Baron Cohen pointing his finger at?

I do not go as far as some people who claim that the movie will just promote the stereotypes that much of America has about gay men (though the scenes involving his baby definitely do not help), but I do see these people's point. But in reality, people who are so homophobic probably aren't going to see this movie anyway. So again, what is the point? If it was just to entertain, then it falls very flat. But we all know that the movie's purpose is supposed to be more than that.

So, I was very disappointed in Brüno. Parts of it were very funny; much of it was pointless; much of it missed its mark; and some of it was just bad.


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