This week at the movies, we’ve got Austrian audacity (Bruno, starring Sacha Baron Cohen) and graduation gratification (I Love You, Beth Cooper, starring Hayden Panettiereand Paul Rust). What do the critics have to say?
Sacha Baron Cohen has become one of cinema’s most daring provocateurs — and astute social critics. Critics say his latest vehicle, Bruno, is at once laugh-out-loud funny, teeth-grittingly awkward, and disarmingly intelligent — though it’s a few notches below his last gonzo doc, Borat. Cohen plays Bruno as a flamboyantly gay Austrian fashionista, with a desire for fame an an aptitude for making people very uncomfortable; like Borat, he also has the ability to get people to say disturbingly revealing things on camera. The pundits say Bruno isn’t quite as sharp as its predecessor, but it’s still shocking and oddly perceptive. It’s also Certified Fresh. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we present a brief history of the mockumentary).
I Love You, Beth Cooper attempts the same high-wire act as many wild teen comedies — it promises raunchy laughs, but also tries to say something to say about the teenage condition. Unfortunately, the pundits say Beth Cooper fails on both levels. Paul Rust stars as a high school valedictorian who declares his love for super-popular Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere) during his commencement speech; later that night, she shows up at his house to take him on a whirlwind tour through her world, which results in parties, debauchery, and property destruction. The pundits say this is a tired, joyless affair cribbed from parts of much better, more substantial teen flicks. It’s also filled with stereotypical characters and occasionally offensive gags.
Also opening this week in limited release: