Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, July 13, 2009

How does Bruno measure up to Borat?

Over the weekend,my sister and I checked out the latest Sascha Baron Cohen farce,Bruno,and while it was shockingly entertaining(certain images are going to haunt my imagination for quite a long time),I have to admit that Bruno is no Borat.

Yes,both films have that in-your-face open mockery of social mores and the popular comedy cliche of seeing just how annoying you can be to someone until they go off on you(or not), yet the impact made by Borat was much greater.

Part of the reason for that may be the vivid shallowness of the character who is meant to throw a glaring spotlight on the glory seeking celebrity obsessed culture,which is a great big target to aim at. Only trouble is,at times the jokes were as affective as a mirror set up to reflect another mirror-the sharp barb bounces off and leaves not even a whisper of a mark behind.

For example,one of the things that Bruno does on his quest to regain celebrity status is to follow the trend of adopting a child from Africa. Considering all the coverage and ethical debate surrounding Madonna's attempts to do that,plus Angelina Jolie's forays into the field,a pretty ripe pop culture crop of jokes ripe for the plucking there.

However,one of the bits from that is a casting call for a baby photo shoot in which Bruno screens prospective candidates by asking the parents all sorts of off the wall questions about what their child can handle on set. It's sort of amusing,but stage parents have been pretty much been mocked from there and back again,making them less of a surprising target and more of a concern to the folks at Child Protective Services instead:

Even the talk show bit meant to follow up this segment of the storyline had mixed results;while the audience reaction was most likely authentic,talk shows are so well orchestrated for hijinks that it wasn't hard to see where this was going:

Also,this is the third time that SBC has brought one of his TV show characters to the silver screen and like many of the Not Ready for Prime Time players in America,stretching out a persona that fits neatly into a small skit into a longer format can quickly wear thin.

Don't get me wrong,I did have a few laughs and the audience we were with enjoyed themselves,but like the song says,the thrill is gone,baby. SBC does fully commit to his characters and to the situations they're put in,to the humorous hilt. His type of satire may not be to everyone's taste but you have to give the man credit for daring to pulling some of these stunts(whether staged or not),especially in public.

Maybe it's time that he tries to go another route to get the laughs or go off in a completely other artistic direction. His brief role in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd showed that Cohen has some slick acting chops that he can call upon and it would be interesting to see him in a different venue.

While Bruno did well at the box office this weekend,movie trend setters are saying that the film clearly isn't going to be the major moneymaker that Borat was. If you're really in need of some seriously politically incorrect humor,Bruno is one stop shopping. Otherwise,you can get the same effect by renting some of SBC's earlier work which ,like most fashion staples,never goes out of style:

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