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THE WEEKEND MARQUEE: Cinema Gets A Gay Austrian Makeover

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After over a year of media hype and publicity stunts, Brüno is finally hitting theaters. Will people flock to it as they did for Sacha Baron Cohen‘s last movie Borat?  Probably. The recent box office success of The Hangover proved that audiences are clearly in the mood for raunchy, uncomfortable humor, especially after weeks of Transformers domination. And Brüno looks to be even more over-the-top than The Hangover.

Although its reviews have been generally positive (begrudgingly so), most critics felt somewhat conflicted given the movie’s multiple layers as a satire, circus attraction and quasi-documentary.

In her review for The New York Observer, Sara Vilkomerson writes:

Brüno is relentless—an aggressive, squirm-inducing affair where you will most certainly laugh, but you may instantly feel kind of bad about it, yourself and possibly humanity.

Jason Anderson of The Toronto Star labels the film “very funny” but goes on:

Though Brüno is as blithely idiotic as Borat, his aggressive displays of vanity and sexuality make him a more provocative figure. Yet Cohen’s efforts to expose his subjects’ homophobia do little to challenge feelings of fear and loathing in his own viewing audience…Brüno’s greatest outrages here will still elicit howls and shrieks, as well they should. But our fabulous Austrian friend is no comedy revolutionary, only a cruel and silly stereotype in leopard-print underwear.

At least it’s getting some kind of dialogue going, or, at the very least, exploring an area of mainstream cinema that is rarely visited.

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The other major comedy that’s opening this weekend is I Love You, Beth Cooper, based on the novel by Larry Doyle. Unlike Brüno, this movie doesn’t have critics conflicted: they all agree that this Superbad/Girl Next Door/Risky Business/Sixteen Candles/every other teen movie ripoff flat-out stinks.
In his review for The Village Voice, Scott Foundras writes that Beth Cooper is a “joyless, offensively stupid end-of-high-school farce”.
Eric Snyder of Film.com was even less impressed:
I Love You, Beth Cooper was obviously inspired by (the movies of John Hughes) and desperately — desperately — wants to emulate, in much the same way that a crack whore wearing a dime-store tiara wants to emulate Queen Elizabeth.
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The other movies out today are:

Blood: The Last Vampire, a poorly reviewed atmospheric genre piece that’s trying to cash in on the success of Twilight.

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The critically celebrated indie Humpday, another subversive, raunchy comedy about two guys walking that thin line between comradery and lust.

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And, lastly, Jeff Levy-Hinte‘s well-received doc Soul Power, which brings the oft-overlooked music festival Zaire ’74 to life. The movie features performances by such legends as James Brown, Celia Cruz, B.B. King and Bill Withers.

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