Interesting that in the middle of the summer blockbuster movie season, I'd sit through a documentary (Tyson) and a mockumentary (Bruno) in the same weekend.
Yes, I know Bruno is supposed to have the umlauts over the U, but awful as that movie was, it doesn't deserve the time it would take me to dig into Word and insert the symbol.
Summer is supposed to be about bombast and spectacle, special effects and escapism. These two films are sort of counter-programming.
The summer has been largely so awful from a movie standpoint, however, I'll welcome the more deliberate films over the ostentatious. I just wish Bruno had been something else, like a Christopher Guest film.
I'm doing Tyson first, however, because it's more worth your time, and I really want to bash the crap out of Bruno. Basically, if you stop reading early, I want you to have read about the good film.
When I was a teenager, Mike Tyson was a god. Never very interested in boxing, I nevertheless watched all the Tyson fights, mostly because my dad always had them on in the living room. They were the only thing for which he did pay-per-view.
Looking back, I understand why watching Tyson fight was fascinating. His fights weren't like other fights. You didn't settle for nine rounds. Once the bell rang for the first round, you started your stopwatch and waited for the knockout punch.
I did get into Mike Tyson's Punch Out on my NES. In fact, all my friends did. We were psychotic trying to reach and defeat Iron Mike. There was this guy right before Tyson, Sandman, who was almost impossible to beat. I remember getting through Sandman, but I know I never beat Tyson.
One of my best friends, James, did however. He was maniacal about it. He'd stay up, perched on the end of my bed, two feet from my crappy old color television, all night, fighting Mike over and over again. When he finally beat him, he celebrated like he'd won the lottery.
The point here is that Tyson, now largely regarded as a villain, was once a larger-than-life hero. He was this invincible champion.
And then came the self-destruction. First the rape charges, then the jail sentence. When he finally got out, he wasn't the same guy. Never really stable, he'd seemingly gone over the edge. When he bit off part of Evander Holyfield's ear, we all thought he'd gone loco. I mean, dude bit part of a guy's ear off. Certifiable.
He kept fighting, sure, but he was a shell of his former self. He wasn't the guy Will Smith sang about. His antics, to my mind, sort of discharged him from relevancy. I never really thought about him much after the ear.
Until this summer. First, Tyson's 4-year-old daughter died in an accident involving a treadmill. It was the kind of story that makes you want to toss your lunch. Things like that should not happen to children, and I can't imagine being in that situation as a parent. I remember thinking at the time, however, "Mike Tyson has kids?" Seemed discordant somehow, that this brute with a tattoo on his face would have children.
Second, he had a cameo, a really funny cameo in The Hangover. The guys in the flick steal a tiger out of Mike Tyson's house, and when he comes to collect the tiger, he knocks one of them out with a swing that took me back to my childhood. It was one of those, "Ooooh yeah, that's Mike Tyson."
And now this documentary about his life. I know Tyson technically came out last year, but for documentaries, it sometimes takes them awhile to get out into the world. It's just opening this week at the Circle even though a lot of the country's already had the opportunity.
It's a fascinating film, and if you were ever a fan of this guy, you're going to love it. Might even be blown away by it.
Tyson is an hour-and-a-half long interview with the champ. It has no narration and very little commentary in the form of newsclips. It's his life in his own words, and he's extraordinarily candid.
It's no wonder he bit someone's ear off. His life story is as devastating as his right hook. He grew up committing and surrounded by crime. You get to hear how he'd consciously commit crimes to get sent to juvie so as to reunite with friends he hadn't seen in a long time. He lived the thug life.
Even the discovery of boxing didn't turn his life around right away. Even his trainer, Cus D'Amato, didn't straighten him out.
Maybe now, at 42, Mike's finally getting his head on straight, but this documentary is a beautiful tragedy, and I really don't think you can see it without being both moved and fascinated. In the end, I almost guarantee you'll feel some sympathy for the guy.
Definitely worth your time. Unlike this week's other film, Bruno...
And the Point Is?
I never saw Borat. When it initially opened in Oklahoma, it opened in just one theater, and I didn't find it until it was too late. I remember feeling sorta cheated, because some of my other friends had been raving about it.
But then I started seeing bits and pieces of it, and what I saw didn't compel me to track it down when it hit DVD. I didn't feel the need to watch it on cable. That's not to say I won't track it down at some point in the future.
Also, I never watched The Ali G show.
So I went in clean, so to speak, to Bruno.
Huh. That was... tedious.
So the premise goes something like this... Bruno (Sacha Baron Cohen) is a flamboyantly gay fashion show host in Austria. He thinks he is the greatest thing in the world and he is obsessed with being famous.
After he destroys a fashion show by way of a Velcro suit, he's fired from his show and cast adrift in the world. Even his little gay lover leaves him.
He decides to embark on a journey to America where his plan is to become an A-list movie star. He takes with him his assistant's assistant, Lutz. Lutz is in love with Bruno. Thing is, Bruno is basically hapless and talentless. He's like an unfunny gay version of Jerry Lewis.
When he realizes the movie star thing isn't going to happen, the tries creating a talk show where he interviews celebrities. That crashes and burns as well.
Then he gets desperate and tries to make a sex tape with a celebrity to release on the Internet.
I'd say things get worse from there, but they're pretty bad to begin.
I get what he's trying to do. He's trying to make heterosexual Americans uncomfortable. We have enough trouble with depictions of hetero sex; gay sex and gay sexual innuendo is enough to make many Americans apoplectic.
I get the joke.
Basically, the movie is like a long-form "story" version of Candid Camera. Thing is, I'd like it better if it was just the Candid Camera part. The character and story were what killed the movie for me.
Don't get me wrong. I laughed. There are a bunch of funny moments, mostly coming from people's reactions to Bruno.
But honestly, I just don't think a flapping, flaccid and sometimes talking penis is that funny. Maybe that's just me. Frankly, I wasn't offended. I wasn't uncomfortable. I was more... annoyed, as in, "This is your shtick?" I expected more.
Again, there are some moments. When Bruno stages an MMA event in Arkansas that he then turns into a passionate man-on-man kissing session, the crowd reaction shots are priceless. Funny stuff.
I just wish there'd been more of that and less of Bruno himself. Either way, crappy flick. Don't waste your time.
Steph and I actually saw Bruno on our "date" for the weekend. When we were walking out of the theater, she said, "I feel like I need to take a shower."
I'll see you next week.
Share this article: