21 July 2009

Brüno ich not funny

I saw Sacha Baren Cohen’s new film Brüno last week, and I was sorely disappointed.

There’s already been a lot of
media/blogger hoopla surrounding the movie, but I wanted to add my take.

Obviously, it was not as good as Borat, for a number of reason, only one of which being that he'd already done the same schtick successfully in that film. I was prepared for Brüno to be less innovatively funny, but I was surprised by a movie that was utterly childish and mostly unfunny.

Sure there are a few laugh-worthy moments (a bit with all-too-eager stage parents and another where a preacher tells us what music not to listen to if we’re trying to be straight – Indigo Girls, the Village People, I’m talking about you!), but the film is horribly uneven and, worse, often offensive.

Watching it was an overall uncomfortable and painful experience more so than a humorous one (Borat, too, had those moments, but Brüno is constructed almost entirely of them).

For me, most of the humor in Borat came from poking fun at the xenophobic/anti-Semitic/generally bigoted people he encountered along the way. Brüno really has less of that than you would expect. Sure there are some homophobes – it’s hard, however, to laugh at them when many of the jokes themselves are founded upon the "gag" of Brüno’s flamboyant homosexuality – but mostly there are just people who end up uncomfortable around Brüno; not because he is gay, but because he decides to talk about (and often act out) sex acts in a very explicit and inappropriate fashion. (I suppose this, in and of itself, is supposed to be funny, but I'm not a 12-year-old so it’s not). It’s hard to blame, or label as homophobic, the people who are weirded out by Brüno and his in-your-face behavior – behavior that would be equally frowned upon from a straight man.

Obviously, one could counter that this pointing out homophobia business wasn’t
Cohen’s goal (although I think it at least partly was), but without that element, the film really falls flat. An endless stream of gross-out jokes and shock-jock humor, that, in the end, isn't very funny (sauf a few aforementioned skits).

And still on that point, if it was at all – anywhere, even a little bit deep down – Cohen’s goal to point out homophobia, I think Brüno is an utter failure and a homophobic film unto itself. I realize there is a certain amount of satire involved, but the Brüno image of a kinky-sex-crazed gay man that will aggressively proposition every male in sight is not something the gay community needs, especially when many already hold that view in their hearts.

Here’s to hoping that Cohen comes up with something better the next time around.

Musique: "Closer to Fine" Indigo Girls

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