We like to keep things positive here at Idol Chatter. The intersection of pop culture and faith is a dynamic and inspiring corner of the blogosphere. But I’m struggling to find what’s positive or inspiring about Sasha Baron Cohen’s latest film, “Bruno.”
From “The Pink Panther” to “Monty Python,” “Blazing Saddles ” to “Ace Ventura,” and “Austin Powers ” above them all, our cinema history includes a fine tradition of edgy humor that produces both laughs and insight through cultural satire. “Bruno” is essentially about shock value and obnoxiousness, neither of which are synonyms for humor. And when crudeness and crassness lacks humor, it is, indeed, uninspiring.
USA Today liked it, as did Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times. But many–including the The Washington Post, Associated Press, The Chicago Tribune, and the New York Times did not.
“We all knew ‘Borat.’ ‘Borat’ was a friend of ours,” offered Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter. “‘Bruno,’ you’re no ‘Borat.'”
“If ‘Borat’ was utterly of its moment in piercing American complacence and self-regard, ‘Brüno’ seems fatally out of tune,” said the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday, “with every staged encounter falling as flat as the protagonist’s hot-ironed bob.”
Though the humor is sometimes hilarious and sometimes inane, the shock factor is undeniable,” said USA Today’s Claudia Puig.”You’ll cringe and watch through splayed fingers, but mostly you’ll laugh.” (This was a positive review!)
Ever since his distasteful stunt at the Grammy Awards, Sasha Baron Cohen has been on a promotional tour, in character, and I’m glad the film is finally out as the promotions had been getting old. He was forced and un-funny on NBC’s “Today Show” this week.
I think Sasha Baron Cohen certainly has unique skills and talents, and I hope his future contributions can be more positive.