14 posts categorized "television"


Field plows into frumpy, fantasizing 'Doris'

Sally Field as the title character in "Hello, My Name Is Doris." Seacia Para/Roadside Attractions

Generally speaking, when an extraordinarily gifted actress like Sally Field, a two-time Academy Award winner (Norma Rae, Places in the Heart), is out front, a film is strong enough to warrant a trip to the neighborhood movie house.

That’s almost the case with "Hello, My Name Is Doris," but not quite.

Field, nominated for a third Oscar as Mary Todd Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln in 2012, pours her acting soul into Doris. She’s a 60-something New Yorker from Staten Island who has just lost her mother and now must fend for herself at work, with her friends and, perhaps most importantly, when she’s alone.

Not unlike Doris, however, there’s just too much baggage in this layered comic-drama for even a gifted pro like Field to carry herself. Doris is not just conflicted, as any lonely woman in her 60s might be after losing her closest human contact (her mother).

In many ways, Doris is still a teenager in her mind, even though she’s nearing retirement age at the office where she keeps accounts in a cubicle that can barely contain her volatile angst. Let’s just say her path to happiness and mental stability is as cluttered as her home, where she throws a fit when relatives and a psychologist try to get her to part with a hoarded single snow ski she has no use for.

There’s enough going on in Hello, My Name Is Doris to suggest that Field would have a Field day (if you’ll pardon the pun) rumbling through the mental mess that is her title character. Unfortunately, this tale of an aging wallflower desperate to blossom into a relationship with the handsome young new art director named Max (John Fremont) careens off into something that’s a little bit Walter Mitty (an uncontrollable fantasizer) and a lot made-for-TV movie material.

Director Michael Showalter, who also co-wrote the script, is working with material first explored in an eight-minute NYU student film. Expanded to 90 minutes, however, Hello, My Name Is Doris runs out of creative gas, much like so many of those funny Saturday Night Live skits that died on the feature-film vine.

Field is fine, more than fine, in fact. She jumps into the lovable frump bag that is Doris body and soul. There are no complaints from this aisle seat about Fremont, currently starring on the small screen as Schmidt opposite Zooey Deschanel on the Fox sitcom New Girl. And it’s fun to see Tyne Daly as Roz, a steadfast best friend to Doris.

Unfortunately, Hello, My Name Is Doris is not constantly compelling enough to live on eccentricity alone on the big screen. It might play well on TV in prime time, but somewhere down the list of cable channels that attend more to matters of the heart than matters of essential cinema.


MPAA rating: R (profanity)
90 minutes
Jalapeño rating: 2½ (out of 4)


'Glee' rocks the house for marketing geeks

Over time, some memories begin to blur or, in other cases, super-size.

I don't recall Grand Prairie High School music assemblies of a few decades back rockin' the house like what you'll see, hear and feel in "Glee:  The 3D Concert Movie."

I add "feel" to the mix because no bass drum stomp or guitar riff has rattled my insides like what we hear in th "Glee" concert opus since The Who smashed their guitars and drop-kicked the drum set on the Memorial Auditorium stage in Dallas in the early '60s.

Very slickly produced, "Glee:  The 3D Concert Movie" is directed by Kevin Tancharoen, who called the shots on the "Fame" big-screen revise a couple years back.

Full disclosure:  I'm not a fan of the wildly popular Fox TV series, which harmonizes into its third season next month.  I am a fan of Jane Lynch, who portrays salty Sue Sylvester on the show.  Truth is, I never could stomach the TV show long enough for Lynch to appear.

The concert film, though, is something else.  I could do without the insertion of real-life geeks (the dwarf cheerleader, the gay guy outed in the eighth grade, etc.) that's peppered throughout.  Come on guys, if you're going to cut Lynch out of the concert film, which apparently someone did, also 86 the cheesy pathos.

"Glee 3D" doesn't need that.  The cast members who sing, all tangled in high school drama on TV, set a very high standard vocally.

Lea Michele, Rachel Berry to "Gleeks," belts out a rousing version of Barbra Streisand's signature "Don't Rain on My Parade" that may have the rafters still humming at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ, where the concert film was lensed over two nights.

Plano native Kevin McHale is also a show-stopper as Artie, the geeky kid in the wheelchair.  For those of you unfamiliar with Artie's dream in the TV series, the lively number recreating the event on the concert stage might leave some cynics in the audience -- if they're allowed into the movie auditorium at all -- scratching their heads.

Normally, I'd say a movie like this would be for "Glee" devotees only.  The choir (or glee club) singing to the choir (or glee club) as it were.

Not this time.  I encourage all marketing majors as well as music majors, singers and anyone who enjoys a pulsating musical act on stage to attend as well; perhaps with a set of earplugs.  

Present and future marketing execs may be overpowered by the rush of music and put off by the corny theme of "geeks as gods."  Publicity professionals could take notes on how a well-oiled stage show can rumble along so magnificently as a cash cow marketing vehicle, though.

That's something to "don't stop believin.'" For sure.


Wheels up for Carell's star vehicle

"Crazy, Stupid, Love" arrives totally as a surprise and packs a goofy entertainment sucker punch that refreshes, stimulates and causes a lump to form in the throat.

I like the title.  That's exactly what crazy, stupid love does to a person.

Perhaps the title is more than a little bit redundant, but the new starring vehicle for "Office" (on TV) expatriate Steve Carell sports an impact and sophistication we rarely see in the dog days of cinematic summer.

Before you'll even have a chance to drop a dollop of popcorn butter-like, nuclear waste-like substance on your shirt or blouse, a life bomb wrecks the emotional landscape of one Cal Weaver (Carell).

His wife and high school sweetheart Emily (Julianne Moore) blurts out that she wants a divorce.  And while she's blurting, Emily confesses that she slept with a guy (Kevin Bacon) from her office.  These heart-stunning revelations fire across a restaurant table at the very moment Cal was sure Emily was about to announce her dessert choice.

"Crazy, Stupid, Love," unlike many middle-age crazy flicks, keeps at least one foot -- OK a toe or two -- grounded in reality.  

Suddenly single in his 40s, Cal hits the neighborhood disco bar.  Sipping a girly drink from a straw, he's greeted by blank stares from the general 20/30something mojito slurpers on the prowl for love, or at least someone to make the long night pass a little less painfully.

This might be a different film if it were directed and/or written by a woman.

It's not, though.  Co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who collaborated on Jim Carrey's outrageous dark comedy "I Love You Phillip Morris" last year, take a script by Dan Fogelman ("Tangled," "Cars") and fill the screen with dark humor, steamy romance and surprises in the final reel that might just curl your hair (assuming you have some).

Jacob (Ryan Gosling of "Blue Valentine" and "Lars and the Real Girl"), the local disco stud, takes Cal under his wing.  He shows his sadsack, jilted elder what to wear, what drink to order, how to wear his hair and what to say to fish for willing companions for the evening.

I won't go into details, especially when it comes to Cal's needy commitment to his almost-ex or his encounter with a love-starved disco tart portrayed with excellent full-tilt boogie by Oscar winner Marisa Tomei.

It's best to simply strap in for the ride with a movie like this.

Just know that Carell, making the transition from a very popular TV sitcom ("The Office"), no longer needs training wheels for his star vehicles.  This is where Carell finally gets smart and learns how to stroke his hangdog victim acting tools into a big screen arsenal.

And while we're on the subject of actors finding solid footing, let's add Emma Stone, who plays aspiring attorney Hannah, to that list.

Stone ("Easy A," "Zombieland"), either blessed or cursed to bear a striking resemblance to troubled actress Lindsay Lohan, displays an acting range in this one that I, for one, was surprised by.  Very pleasant surprise, that.

This film is at times crazy and stupid.  

I loved it.


'Hornet's buzz is all wrong, but enjoyable

I got a kick out of "The Green Hornet" for the very reason fanboy comic book geeks and devotees of the former radio drama, serial feature and TV series won't.

In the hands of Seth Rogen, a formerly chubby big screen comic schlub who stars and co-wrote the script, the "Hornet" aims its stinger primarily at the funny bone.

I'm pretty sure that if offbeat French director Michel Gondry ("Human Nature," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") didn't pull back on the creative reins at times, Britt Reid (Rogen) and his gadget guru/weapons creator/coffee chef Kato (Jay Chou) might just hang around the Los Angeles mansion and read comic books about themselves much of the time.

As it is, Britt, who inherits his recently and mysteriously deceased dad's (Tom Wilkinson) newspaper, is a playboy lout stunned into crime fighting as a way to get back at his old man.

Once Britt decides to fight crime, he has no idea what The Green Hornet should do.  So while he's hanging around his late dad's newspaper, Britt hires a new secretary (Cameron Diaz, who keeps hanging in there).  She thinks she's doing research, but actually she's calling Hornet shots.

Rogen and  Chou, an Asian pop music star, play off each other well.  The reason many of the fanboys even care about this big-screen adaptation of "The Green Hornet" is that chop-socky hero Bruce Lee played Kato during its one-season run on ABC in 1966/'67.

Chou, a singer not a martial arts guy, recreates Lee's cool demeanor.  From this aisle seat, though, Chou's lack of English language command dilutes some of the rhythmn of scenes.

The twist here is that Britt and Kato want their own niche for The Green Hornet and his unnamed sidekick.  So they pretend to be bad guys, irritating both the local authorities and L.A.'s unofficial crime lord, a dapper little ruthless guy named Benjamin Chudnofsky portrayed by Christoph Waltz.

If you're anything like me, you'll have to push Waltz's marvelous, Oscar-winning performance in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" in '09 to the far reaches of the memory bank to enjoy what's going on here (pretty silly stuff).  

You should also know that although much is being hyped about "The Green Hornet" being presented in 3-D, that decision was made after principal photography was already in the can.  So the 3-D, with the exception of a fiery explosion or two, is no big whoop.

I may be all alone on this, but I like Rogen's laid-back, goofball turn as the title character.  In a stand-off between The Green Hornet, Batman and Spider-Man, the bat and the spider dude would probably laugh so hard they'd wet their spandex just looking at this masked avenger.

Don't go expecting a superhero flick you will reverently admire.  Go for a film that looks a lot like what a comic book-to-big screen conversion should usually look and feel like.

Just not this time, Seth.  Not that I mind, but the tight-lipped fanboys won't appreciate going for the gags.


Putting the bloom back into 'Morning Glory'

Perky aggressive youth clashes with cynical elder burn-out in "Morning Glory," a behind-the-scenes look at those happy talk morning news/entertainment TV shows that can be -- and often are -- annoying.

Rachel McAdams, in many ways the heir apparent to Sandra Bullock, combines klutzy with savvy in a manner that should please both the audience and director Roger Michell, who successfully teamed Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts in "Notting Hill" (1999), a somewhat similar oddball comedy.

McAdams, most recently on screen as the femme fatale in "Sherlock Holmes," is nose-to-the-grindstone TV producer Becky Fuller in this one.  After being fired due to budget cuts in New Jersey, she persists until she lands the executive producer gig at a bottom-feeding network based in New York.

"Daybreak" doesn't just suffer in the ratings, though.  A mere shadow of NBC's "The Today Show" and similar blends of news and entertainment on ABC, Fox and CBS, "Daybreak" redefines the word "stale."

Becky, as youth often does, circles the tired situation like a panther about to pounce.  She may be young and overly enthusiastic, but she's also thoroughly prepared and savvy.

Via a couple of convenient set-up tricks in the screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna ("The Devil Wears Prada"), she manages to bring in retired (but still under contract) legendary network news anchor Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to team with wilting former beauty queen Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton).

Therein lies the major stumbling block I had with "Morning Glory" going in: veteran actors playing network morning TV anchors.  You may want to play the Meredith Vieira ("The Today Show") card as rebuttal.  And you would be correct to a certain extent.  As much as I admire Keaton's talent, though, I still think that role is a bit miscast.

Ford's character, the perpetually grumpy, sometimes drunk hard news hardliner, is much better explained.  As it turns out, that works fine.  In fact, the give-and-take between Ford and McAdams is the engine that drives this comedy.  They go at it vigorously, not unlike Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant digging in their heels in "His Girl Friday."

Many will think of "Morning Glory" more as an update of "Broadcast News," James L. Brooks' 1987 network TV news send up starring William Hurt, Albert Brooks and Holly Hunter.

Hunter was the TV producer pistol in that one.  While "Morning Glory" and "Broadcast News" exist in the same entertainment arena, the update relies on sex scenes instead of crying fits to deal with the heavy pressures of TV news angst.

McAdams is sharp in this one with Ford, who's terrific, Patrick Wilson (the love interest) and Jeff Goldblum, who's dynamite as McAdams' network TV boss.

And a quick note.  When you see the "Morning Glory" weatherman reporting live as he's riding a speeding roller coaster, don't for a second think that can't happen.

This reporter once reviewed a movie while barely clinging to life on a Sea World roller coaster in San Antonio.

So it can happen.  That's it from here.  Back to you, Sonny.


'The A-Team': On the rogue again

Welcome to '80s Reboot Week at your neighborhood movie house.

Film-goers might just feel like they're in a time warp as they stroll multiplex hallways and see the re-imagined "Karate Kid" in one theater and a reconfigured "A-Team" in another.

It should surprise no one that "The A-Team" is a B-movie.

The campy TV action series that occupied NBC prime time from 1983 to 1987 provided an action fix, not logic.  The redux tones down the campy nature a little.  You'll never hear B.A., Mr. T's old character, growl, "I pity the fool," for instance.  Audiences are more sophisticated these days, according to the "A-Team" words of wisdom spun in the film's press notes.

This time we get nuance, if you'd like to call it that.  The first time B.A. batters bad guys with his fists, we notice the word "Pity" tattooed on the fingers of one hand and -- don't get ahead of me -- "Fool" on the other.

Mixed martial artist Quinton "Rampage" Jackson steps in as B.A., the A-Team wheel man who's in the wrong line of work to have a serious fear of flying.  At the center, though, is Liam Neeson as cigar-chomping leader and tactician Col.  John "Hannibal" Smith (the George Peppard role).  

Rising star Bradley Cooper ("The Hangover," "All About Steve") is Face, designated ladies man and sm-o-o-o-th talker.  Sharlto Copley, who sprang to the forefront from nowhere as Wikus in last year's "District 9," steps into the role of crazed-genius pilot "Howlin' Mad" Murdock.

Co-stars include excellent actor Patrick Wilson ("Watchmen") as mysterious CIA weasel Lynch, Jessica Biel ("The Illusionist") as Capt. Sosa, a former love of Face's, and somewhat laughable lines like this:

Face to Capt. Sosa during a heated confrontation:  "I forgot how beautiful you are."

"The A-Team," lensed north of the border with the Vancouver area of Canada doubling for Mexico, Baghdad, Germany, Los Angeles and other locales, rattles the theater speakers and singes the screen with plenty of fast-paced adrenalin-pumping explosions and near-cartoon-like action.

These special ops experts survived combat in Middle East conflicts.   The '80s quartet cut their teeth on napalm and treachery of the Vietnam War era.  Both sets of misunderstood soldiers of fortune were wrongly accused of walking off with war booty (robbing the Bank of Hanoi on TV/ stealing $100-bill U.S. currency plates from Baghdad in the current skirmish).

Director Joe Carnahan ("Smokin' Aces," "Narc") co-wrote this screenplay with actor/writer Brian Bloom (who plays Black Ops leader Pike) and Skip Woods, who co-wrote "X-Men Origins:  Wolverine" and penned the sly action-crime saga "Swordfish."  

There's just a hint of retro in this adventure that culminates in a big, explosive finish at the L.A. harbor.  Anyone who saw "MacGruber" recently might have slight "MacGyver" flashbacks.  The "A-Team" is plenty adept at warrior arts and crafts at a moment's notice and at grabbing odds and ends for parts to homemade weapons of mass destruction.

Quickly forgettable, "The A-Team" is like a carnival ride that briefly thrills and is fun, but won't linger long in the brain.


Sex, terrible twos, shoes and the blues

"Sex and the City" movies:

That's where grown women go to swoon like love-struck teenagers at romance, riches and designer shoes just like their daughters roll their eyes back in ecstasy for the brooding vampires and hunky werewolves of the "Twilight" franchise.

It's all slightly decadent fantasy-romance at a distance.  Dangerous?  Who knows?  But at least there's cinematic equality.  The men have their wealthy suave anti-heroes in iron super-suits, while the boys can visually play with "Transformers" and think of Megan Fox.

"Sex and the City 2," the sequel to the first feature in 2008 and, of course, the opulent flirty comic HBO series (1998-2004), is all about the terrible twos.  Or, to pinpoint the dilemma, the two-year itch.

Charlotte (Kristin Davis), with two kids (including a constantly crying toddler) at home, represents the usual definition of the term in this overlong sequel written, directed and produced once again by Michael Patrick King (a holdover from the TV series).

Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) grates the nerves of her law firm boss (an all-too-brief cameo by comedian Ron White) who can't stand strong women, and Samantha (Kim Cattrall), still single and on the prowl as usual, battles the onset of menopause.

The heart of the "Sex and the City" feline-like foursome, of course, is clever essayist Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker).  Carrie has her man, Mr. Big (Chris Noth), and her big -- make that gigantic -- walk-in closet.  What's missing after two years of co-inhabiting as a married couple is, says Carrie, "sparkle."

Carrie still wants to do the town.  Big, meanwhile, has grown so accustomed to the designer couch that he might sprout potatoes at any moment.  What to do, what to do?

In the vintage musicals of the '40s, someone would shout, "Hey, let's put on a show!" about this time.  But this film pays homage to Busby Berkeley musicals in the first reel with an extravagant gay wedding complete with swans, an all-male chorus in white and Liza Minnelli in black.

So it's off to the new Middle East (with Morocco doubling for the United Arab Emirates).  Via a contrived plot twist, a filthy rich investor invites Samantha to check out his gaudy, extravagant hotel in Abu Dhabi.  She will if her gal pals can tag along on the sheik's Dirham.

From this aisle seat, it seems odd that writer-director King chooses to take his central characters so identified with the Big Apple on what is basically a Hope and Crosby road trip to the casbah.

Leave it to Carrie, though.  She finds designer shoes even in a crowded marketplace.  And when she's not trying on shoes more befitting a genie, old flame Aidan (John Corbett) sort-of magically appears to scratch (and possibly infect) the two-year itch.

I like the way King evens the score a little when it comes to opposite-sex ogling.  In "Sex and the City 2," the dirty old men of Hollywood (in control for decades) take a backseat to a woman who views male bodies as slabs of beefcake.

At two and a half hours, though, even Samantha's funny menopause rants become tiresome.  This is a frivolous, overly indulgent, two-Cosmos (at least) sequel.


'All About Steve,' nothing about funny

Sadly, "All About Steve" returns Sandra Bullock to harebrained comedy that falls flat more than it works.

Bullock bounced back into the spotlight nicely in June with "The Proposal," a funny, if goofy romantic comedy.  Now, however, "All About Steve" plunges the queen of romantic-comedy back into the much-too-silly romps not unlike the "Miss Congeniality" duds that derailed her career in 2000 and 2005.

I'd write this one off as simply an unfortunate script choice, except that the leading lady is a co-producer.  Surely director Phil Traill, who has worked mostly in TV, and screenwriter Kim Barker (irresponsible for "License to Wed"), deserve some blame.

It's Bullock out front on screen and on the marquee as ditsy-yet-intelligent crossword puzzle author Mary Horowitz, though.  So the Texas-based actress will likely take the hardest hit for this comic underachiever.

Mary Horowitz is a cruciverbalist.  Don't bother running to the dictionary.  That just means she constructs crossword puzzles.  The (fictional) Sacramento Herald newspaper publishes one a week, although Mary is pushing for daily exposure.

Living at home with her eccentric parents, Mary does nothing but work.  No, strike that.  Mary does two other things.  She wears fire-truck red go-go boots everywhere, and she babbles on so much with brainiac facts and figures that no one can stand to be around her.

When a cable news photographer named Steve (Bradley Cooper) shows up for a blind date, Mary pins him down and across in the back of his van before he can even get the engine started.

Mary, convinced Steve is The One, loses her job when she writes a crossword titled All About Steve that perplexes, then angers her regular readers.

Much of the rest of this dismally silly comedy involves Mary chasing "her man" cross-country:  to Arizona for a hostage situation, to Oklahoma City where a baby is born with three legs and, finally to a disaster scene where a group of deaf children has fallen into a sinkhole.

It's not an uninteresting character for Bullock.  But the hyper, but one-dimensional script gives her nowhere to go with her verbal encyclopedia babble.

Cooper, on screen recently in the hugely popular lowbrow comedy "The Hangover," can do nothing but play defense.  Bullock's in his face from one direction and Oscar nominee Thomas Haden Church ("Sideways") is acting equally goofy.  Church, who could have read the script a little more carefully as well, hams it up as ego-driven cable news reporter Hartman Hughes.

Frankly, Sandra Bullock is one of my favorite actresses.  She was great acting against comic-type in "Crash" (2004), and she's made me laugh for years in comedies like "Practical Magic," "Two Weeks Notice" and the aforementioned "Proposal."

"All About Steve" is just a waste of Bullock's talent.  And our time.


'Beth Cooper' is super bad, not 'Superbad'

"I Love You, Beth Cooper" is the title.  Middle-aged men trying to rekindle real or imagined memories of wild high school-age debauchery could be the reason it all falls flat.

Who among us hasn't thought back on, or perhaps forward to that wild graduation night.  After all the diplomas have been handed out and the obligatory pictures with mom and dad are safely locked inside the family camera, it's wild-ass party time, right?

That actually didn't happen to me, or perhaps not to you either.  I marched right into college summer-session the morning after high school graduation to get a head start on my career. 
(I did that for this?  Never mind, I'll work that out with my therapist later.)

The point is, we can all dream a little and pretend we were the cool guys and girls in the hot car zooming away from high school and into adventurous adult life whether it actually transpired or not.

Unfortunately, when humorist, novelist and now screenwriter Larry Doyle teams up with director Chris Columbus to make yet another raunchy teen comedy  along those lines, the creative tires are seriously deflated. 

Anyone who has read Doyle's contributions to The New Yorker's "Shouts and Murmurs" page knows what a gifted comedy writer the former "Simpsons" writer/producer can be.

For some reason, though, this collaboration between the promising writer and the formerly hot filmmaker (Columbus helmed the first two "Harry Potter" adventures) fizzles.

I've got to think that the outtakes to "Superbad," a far superior recent variation on the theme, probably captured unbridled, but uncertain teen excessive indulgence much better than this.

Up and coming actor Paul Rust, who claims to hail from Iowa but needs to be DNA tested as a possible Sean Penn offspring, plays high school dork Denis Cooverman. 
He's been secretly in love with Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere of "Heroes" on TV) for years, although he's never quite summoned the nerve to speak one word to her.

So in his valedictorian speech, Denis professes his love for the head cheerleader who fills his heart and the ceiling over his bed (in poster form).  Kevin (Shawn Roberts), Beth's square-necked, military boyfriend with double-digit intelligence, doesn't appreciate Denis gushing love for "his girl" in front of a graduation ceremony crowd.

So off we go on a wild night where Denis gets savagely beaten more than once, cars crash through mansion plate glass windows and even some parents get caught with their pants down.

Doyle and Columbus never intended this comic bottom-feeder to be a documentary, of course.  But the ease in which these kids buy booze and wreak havoc doesn't summon up the usual line of "Where are you going to college?"  The question here should be, "When do you expect to get out of prison?"

Rust, who does all he can here with scant material, is a young actor with range who bears watching.  Not just in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming "Inglourious Basterds," but beyond as well. 
Panettiere proved she can hold our attention on the big screen in "Ice Princess."  There's not much for her to do here but pout and shout, although she handles that with ease.

As for Doyle and Columbus, two thoughts: 
"I Love You, Beth Cooper" pretty much seals the deal on the thought that novelists should write their own screenplays only in the event every other screenwriter has been wiped off the planet by a mysterious plague like ... what's the word, what's the phrase? ... oh yeah, writer's block.

Secondly, I knew Columbus had discovered nothing promising here when I realized early on that I liked this boring teen romp less than the director's uninspired screen version of "Rent."

'Brüno' aims for the funny bone, crotch

In the radio business, guys like Sacha Baron Cohen's Brüno are called "shock jocks," at least in semi-polite society.

Howard Stern is the best on the airwaves, of course.  But the prodding, do-almost anything veteran radio personality (now holding court on satellite radio) mostly paints vulgarity with words.

Cohen, especially this time out, flops his, uh, humor right out there in vivid detail; almost to the point of being in our faces.  Thank God this 82-minute, squirm-in-your-seat ride isn't in 3-D.  (Oh, the humanity!) 

With "Brüno," as it was with "Borat" three years ago, the British comedian flings graphic nudity and shock-and-awe vulgarity onto a mainstream movie screen near you.

That said, know this.  "Brüno" is funny. 
Cohen's follow up to unabashed outrageousness is not quite "Borat" funny, but it's shockingly clever enough to make anyone tough enough to hang around laugh out loud more than once.

Once again, Cohen draws on one of his outlandish characters from "Da Ali G Show," which first aired in this country on HBO in 2003. 
"Borat" got Borat, Cohen's lampoon of a Kazakh journalist loose in the U.S.  He ups the ante with Brüno, an openly gay fashionista and host of Austria's late-night fashion show "Funkyzeit Mit Brüno" (complete with broken German and subtitles). 
Since Cohen, who co-wrote the script with Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer and Jeff Schaffer, is well-aware that savvy movie-goers might be on to his corral-and-shock style of so-called "guerrilla" filmmaking, "Brüno" goes straight for the comedy crotch, so to speak. 

The title character cavorting in graphic sex scenes arrived near the end of "Borat," and served as the gut-reaction comic knock-out punch.

Not this time.  Brüno begins the cinematic evening with a vigorous sexual romp with his "pygmy" boyfriend Diesel (Clifford Baňagale) and marches into more offensive, confrontational territory post haste. 

By the way, if anything you're read in this review so far offends you, forgive me.  But if you can't handle this, you have no business wasting your money on the movie itself.

Pretending to be straight, Brüno tricks a martial arts instructor into showing him how to defend himself against gay attackers (waving sex devices at the guy the entire time).  He also disrupts a swingers' sex party and even drops trou on an increasingly seething presidential candidate Ron Paul in a Washington, D.C. hotel room.

Once again, the Deep South suffers the most.  Drunk rednecks in Arkansas prove that the South will rise again when a clamoring crowd out for blood gets tricked into watching two men -- one is Cohen, of course -- caress tenderly. 
Who can blame them?  The very vocal local majority had been expecting straight guys to beat the crap out of each other in a cage fight.

And so it goes.  The formula remains the same for "Brüno." Veteran director Larry Charles, who called the low blows on "Borat," returns for more.  It's just more blatant and exaggerated each time out.

From here, we can only guess which will happen first:  Cohen running out of new character disguises to dupe the unsuspecting, or Cohen getting snuffed trying to top himself.