Two films opening this week offer the
biggest gay week in comic film yet, but it's a joke. And whether
you're in on the joke will decide not so much on your sense of humor
but more on your cultural leanings.
The two films – as if I need to
mention their names – are Sacha Baron Cohen's much-hyped Bruno
(Did you catch those clutch gams on the cover of GQ?) and Director
Lynn Shelton's bromance film Humpday.
At first blush, these two films have
little in common except for their gayness. But unspooled the films
reveal their similarities.
In Bruno, Cohen dives head first
into the character of an effete stereotype of a gay man. He has
great comedic slapstick timing, but the schtick gets old fast.
Bruno, a gay Austrian fashion
journalist, travels the world looking for bigots to unmask with his
homo tomfoolery. Bigots who inevitably blow a cap at Bruno's
over-the-top gay antics. All the while, Bruno remains naively
unaware of what's pissing them off.
But believing that such an
efficaciously gay creature exists remains difficult to swallow.
While Bruno manages to induce some real hate out of his dupes,
proving that homophobia lurks just one exaggerated swish away, most
viewers will be laughing at his hedonistic homo caricature, not the
unease it provokes.
Humpday is farcically similar in
its message. In it, two straight men, Ben and Andrew, set out to
create a pornographic video on a dare, starring themselves. It's
supposed to be the macho version of a gay game of chicken. They
climb into bed and … talk, talk, talk. Viewers are more likely to
be mumbled to sleep than find the premise believable.
And while straight viewers with a weak
stomach will feel queasy at the sight of these gay gags, gay viewers
won't get much relief either. That's because the joke in both movies
is that sex between two men is inherently funny. (Perhaps Humpday
will find a niche following among social conservatives trying to
press the point that being gay is a choice.)
Whether you enjoy Humpday or
Bruno will likely depend on whether you fall into that narrow
strip of simple-minded people willing to accept the premise of these
movies, yet are enlightened enough to be in on the joke. Good luck.