This time around Sacha Baron Cohen channels an oversexed, desperately invasive, homosexual, Austrian supermodel named Brüno to bring his particular brand of shockumentary schtick to our screens.

Brüno’s shenanigans feel a little more staged than those of his predecessors, Ali G and Borat, but will still tickle true fans pink. And herein lies part of the problem. If the audience is not only in on the joke, but also knows the writing process, set-up and punchline, is it still achieving satire with the hope of enacting change and awareness through comedy? Probably not, but for those who love Cohen’s outrageous stunts and antics, who cares? This brazen flick travels so far out of the comfort zone that half the audience will be shrieking on the floor while the other half will be watching through their fingers in the foetal position.

Brüno might not achieve his dream of becoming the biggest celebrity to come out of Austria since Hitler, and Cohen may not be changing the world, but for those who like challenging and bawdy humour, tinged with just a dash of self-righteousness, there is a lot of fun to be had.


Crank: High Voltage

Jason Statham plays the toughest man alive, hitman Chev Chelios, in this adrenalin shot of a film. Picking up moments after Crank left off, we discover that Chev survived his plummet to earth only to be kidnapped by a gang of Chinese Triads who steal his heart, literally, and replace it with a robotic knock-off that requires regular electric jolts to keep it firing.


Chev escapes but this cockney geezer is on a mission to reclaim his heart and nothing will come between him and that old ‘strawberry tart’.

Sure, the plot makes no sense but this is one non-stop, high energy, fight-for-life action film that will thrill fans of the genre and those with really short attention spans. Perfect popcorn entertainment.


Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Ben Stiller is back at the museum with his eclectic band of high-maintenance, wax-figure buddies. Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams and Steve Coogan have returned and are joined by Amy Adams playing a feisty Amelia Earhart and Hank Azaria, who almost steals the movie as a power-mad, lisping pharaoh.

Larry (Ben Stiller) has long left his museum night guard days behind him having found success as a glow-in-the-dark torch salesmen. When he discovers his former chargers, who come to life after dark, are being shipped into storage at the great Smithsonian Museum, however, he has no choice but to rescue them.

The film is relentless. It keeps a frenetic pace that will keep the kids happy and the slapstick flows thick and fast. The plot is a little flaky, and occasionally the action gets so chaotic it will make your head hurt, but the special effects are striking and at times, very magical.

Sacha Baron Cohen scored another number one hit with his latest shockfest comedy Brüno which opened atop the North American box office bumping two-time champ Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to third place. The hit toon Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs remained in second while the new teen comedy I Love You, Beth Cooper was rejected and debuted in seventh. Overall ticket sales slipped from a year earlier.

Fans hit the multiplexes and drove Brüno to the top spot with an estimated $30.4M in tickets sold this weekend. Playing in 2,756 theaters, the fewest for a number one pic this summer, the R-rated film about the Austrian fashionista’s quest for fame averaged a strong $11,040 per location. However, the daily breakdown signaled trouble ahead. Brüno banked an impressive $14.4M on its opening day on Friday, but collapsed by 39% on Saturday to $8.8M. Sequels and films with built-in audiences routinely suffer Friday-to-Saturday drops on opening weekend, but the Universal release plunged by an unusually hefty amount.


With a low CinemaScore grade of C, audiences probably spread negative word-of-mouth on the film once they had a chance to see it. Sunday’s gross is estimated to dip by only 18% to $7.2M so it is possible that the final tally will be even lower. The controversial comedy will find out in the days ahead how much offensive humor (and male nudity) mainstream American moviegoers are willing to tolerate.

Comparing Brüno to Cohen’s 2006 hit Borat makes for an apples-to-oranges comparison given the latter’s more narrow November release. Fox opened the Kazakh reporter flick in only 837 theaters but still shot to number one grossing $26.5M for an incredible $31,607 average. Brüno’s gross was 15% bigger, however it launched in more than three times as many theaters. Reviews were generally positive and studio research showed that the audience was 56% male and 54% age 25 or older.


Universal paid $42.5M for distribution rights in North America and eight overseas territories for Brüno which was financed by Media Rights Capital which has not disclosed the production budget of the film. Universal also spent heavily on a global marketing push as the studio controls the film in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa, Austria, and the United Kingdom. Lavish red carpet premieres were held in many of these countries. The international performance was strong as Brüno grossed an estimated $20M overseas from 1,435 sites in the eight markets that Universal launched the pic in. The film also opened this weekend in several other markets like Spain, Greece, Poland, Israel, and Scandinavia through other distributors and invades France, Russia, and Brazil later this month.

Holding steady in second place for the second straight weekend was the animated comedy Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs which played to a much different audience grossing an estimated $28.5M. Off only 32% from its opening weekend, the 3D toon boosted its 12-day cume to a robust $120.6M virtually matching the $120.9M that its predecessor Ice Age: The Meltdown collected in its first dozen days of play. Fox released the two films differently with Meltdown being a Friday opener in March 2006 while Dinosaurs bowed on a Wednesday in July when weekday grosses are stronger since kids are out of school. The new installment is also taking advantage of higher ticket prices at theaters presenting the pic in 3D and could find its way past the $195.3M of Meltdown in North America.


Still attracting summer moviegoers in its third weekend was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen which dropped out of first place after a two-week reign to gross an estimated $24.2M sliding 43%. The tentpole smash surpassed the $319.1M of the first Transformers flick this weekend raising its cume to a stunning $339.2M in 19 days. The Autobots sequel climbed up to number 16 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters ahead of the $336.5M of 2007’s Spider-Man 3.

The new Transformers film is still on a trajectory to end its North American run at about the $400M mark allowing it to crack the all-time top ten. However, at today’s admission prices that would amount to roughly 54 million tickets sold which would be equivalent to the number of stubs audiences purchased for Men in Black ($250.1M in 1997) and Twister ($241.9M in 1996). The average price of a movie ticket has soared 65% since 1996.


In its second hit, the gangster drama Public Enemies fell by 44% to an estimated $14.1M suffering the worst drop in the top ten. After 12 days, Universal has collected $66.5M and has a shot at reaching $100M. The fake engagement comedy The Proposal eased only 18% to an estimated $10.5M boosting the total to $113.8M for Buena Vista. Enjoying the best hold in the top ten was The Hangover which dipped only 12% to an estimated $9.9M. Warner Bros. has banked an incredible $222.4M to date and its R-rated raunchfest is still attracting large crowds despite the arrival of Brüno.

Moviegoers showed no love for the cheerleader this weekend. Fox’s high school comedy I Love You, Beth Cooper bombed opening in seventh place with a measly $5M, according to estimates. Averaging a weak $2,691 from 1,858 sites, the PG-13 film tumbled 22% on Saturday after a dismal Friday bow and should fade quickly.


Toon titan Up slipped only 29% to an estimated $4.7M in its seventh frame to boost the cume to $273.8M for Disney. The tearjerker pic My Sister’s Keeper followed with an estimated $4.2M, off just 28%, for a $35.8M total for Warner Bros. Rounding out the top ten with an estimated $1.6M was The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 which dropped 37%. Cume is $61.5M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $133.1M which was down 5% from last year when Hellboy II opened in the top spot with $34.5M; and down 21% from 2007 when Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix debuted at number one with $77.1M and $139.7M over its Wednesday-to-Sunday debut period.

Author: Gitesh Pandya


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

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:

  • Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, a documentary about forgotten radio and TV personality Gertrude Berg, is at 94 percent.

  • Humpday, an indie comedy about a pair of old buddies who enter a porn contest, is at 89 percent.
  • The Mexican import Lake Tahoe, a deadpan comedy about a teenage who crashes the family car, is at 86 percent.

  • Soul Power, which documents the concert in connection with the Ali-Foreman “Rumble in th Jungle” and features such legends as James Brown and B.B. King, is at 80 percent.

  • The Vanished Empire, about a love triangle among students in Soviet-era Russia, is at 60 percent.

  • Blood: The Last Vampire, based on the anime classic about a beautiful half-vampire assassin, is at 25 percent.

  • Two comedies hit North American multiplexes hoping to steal audiences away from fighting robots and animated mammoths. Looking to become box office prince is Universal’s raunchy shockfest Brüno which reunites the Borat team of actor Sacha Baron Cohen and director Larry Charles. The buzzworthy pic stands to kick Transformers out of the number one spot after its two-week reign. Also opening on Friday, although with much less hype, is Fox’s high school tale I Love You, Beth Cooper. The overall marketplace will struggle to match up to year-ago numbers.

    Bursting into multiplexes demanding to be noticed is Brüno, an equal opportunity offender that will attract a large audience this weekend. The R-rated film brings Cohen’s TV character to the big screen two and a half years after his Borat became a cult hit and unlikely blockbuster. Brüno will be a well-needed hit for Universal which is the only major studio with only one number one opener so far this year – April’s Fast & Furious. The star-driven films Duplicity and State of Play failed to lure in big crowds in the spring and this summer’s Land of the Lost was an expensive misfire.

    The release of Brüno is wildly different from Fox’s launch strategy for Borat. With Cohen not being a household name at the time, the Kazakh reporter flick went out in a more moderate 837 theaters as the studio built up demand but kept the supply low leading to coast-to-coast sell outs and fans not being able to get in. The trick worked like a charm as Borat beat out Hollywood’s big holiday offerings The Santa Clause 3 and Flushed Away, which bowed in over 3,400 locations each, to open in the number one spot with $26.5M and an eye-popping $31,607 average. The studio more than tripled the run the following weekend and spent another frame on top with $28.3M from 2,566 sites on its way to an amazing $128.5M domestic total and sensational $260M global tally.

    Now, Brüno is heading into theaters more like a sequel with a built-in audience. Moviegoers know what they are in store for so there is no need for a slow roll out. Since Cohen’s humor relies heavily on shock value, the marketing campaign has been bold and pricier with lavish premieres filled with scantily clad performers held in key cities like Sydney, London, Madrid, Amsterdam, and Los Angeles. Usually this type of globe-trotting is reserved only for big-budget action tentpoles.

    Judd Apatow has proven that R-rated comedies can open to more than $30M in the summer. The Hangover went higher with $45M last month and last summer’s Sex and the City with its legions of fans holds the record for the top opening for an R-rated comedy with $56.8M. Brüno will face more competition than Hangover which also bowed in 512 more theaters so it may gross less in the first weekend but score a better average. The bachelor party flick’s success may help the Austrian diva as fans might be hungry for more outrageous envelope-pushing humor. Plus enough time has passed for another one to attack. Riding into 2,757 theaters, Brüno could collect about $40M this weekend.

    Sacha Baron Cohen as Bruno

    For underage Brüno fans looking for a PG-13 pic to buy tickets for before sneaking into Sacha’s auditorium, there is the high school comedy I Love You, Beth Cooper staring Hayden Panettiere of Heroes. The Fox release about a nerdy valedictorian who expresses his feelings for the hottest girl in school who then shows him the night of his life should play exclusively to teen audiences and some young adults. Starpower is weak and the premise is not exciting many ticket buyers. Competition is tough as the target audience has so many other options, even if most are not specifically targeting high schoolers. The promotional push has not been too loud as the studio knows that there is little upside potential here. Terrible reviews won’t help the cause for director Chris Columbus who boasts five $150M+ grossers on his résumé, but has done little behind the camera this decade aside from helming the first two Harry Potter installments. Opening in 1,858 locations, I Love You, Beth Cooper may debut to about $6M.

    Hayden Panettiere and Jack Carpenter in I Love You Beth Cooper

    Last weekend, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs came up a bit short in the Friday-to-Sunday box office derby missing first place by just $630,495. But the 3D toon should hold up better than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and finish above the robot sequel in this weekend’s rankings. The animated film’s gross in its first five days was less than its predecessor’s first three days, however with solid weekday business thanks to kids being on summer vacation, the new pic narrowed the gap over the opening week.

    The 3D adventure banked $80.4M in its first seven days compared to the $81.9M for 2006’s Ice Age: The Meltdown over its comparable initial week. With no direct competition from new releases this weekend, Dawn of the Dinosaurs should remain the top choice for family audiences and hold steady in the number two spot. A 45% drop would give the Fox franchise flick about $23M for the weekend and $115M in 12 days.

    Shia and Megan still plan to rake in some strong numbers in their third lap with movie fans. Transformers smashed the $300M mark on Tuesday after only 14 days of release making it the second fastest film in history to reach the triple-century mark after only The Dark Knight which needed just ten days last July. A 55% drop may be in store this weekend putting the Autobots actioner at roughly $19M for the frame boosting the 19-day to a stunning $335M. A $375-400M final seems likely.

    Universal’s John Dillinger drama Public Enemies will see some competition for adults from the studio’s own R-rated fashionista flick. Audiences have been somewhat pleased with the Johnny Depp pic so compared to director Michael Mann‘s last two films – both also star-driven adult dramas with R ratings released in the summer – Enemies should hold up better than Miami Vice (60% second weekend drop) but not as well as Collateral (35%). A 45% decline would lead to a $14M frame and $67M cume after 12 days.

    LAST YEAR: In the calm before the Bat-storm, Hellboy II: The Golden Army topped the charts opening at number one with $34.5M for Universal. The action sequel went on to gross $76M domestically and a solid $160M worldwide. Will Smith‘s Hancock dropped to second with $32.1M in its sophomore session raising its 12-day tally to an impressive $164.1M. Debuting in third was the 3D adventure pic Journey to the Center of the Earth which bowed to $21M on its way to $101.7M in North America and $232M worldwide. Rounding out the top five were WALL•E and Wanted with $18.8M and $12M, respectively.

    Sacha Baron Cohen has made a career of blurring the lines between reality and fiction. The British-born Cohen gained a cult following in the states with his cult hit Da Ali G Show, then went on to big-screen fame with the gut-busting, wince-inducing gonzo mock doc Borat. This week he’s back with another of his alter egos: the flamboyant Austrian fashionista Bruno. And since Bruno toys with narrative while tweaking real life, we at RT decided to do a brief history of the mockumentary (in chronological order of release).


    David Holzman’s Diary (1967)

    Jim McBride’s satire on cinema verite filmmaking may not be the first mockumentary — for example, Peter Watkins’ little-seen The War Game, a fake news doc about a nuclear attack on Britain, was produced two years before. Still, Diary was a remarkable formal breakthrough, and a key work of American independent cinema. In the movie, the unemployed and possibly Vietnam-bound cinephile David (L.M. Kit Carson) attempts to chronicle virtually every aspect of his life, but his endeavor is met with disdain (and sometimes violence) from the people around him. Shot over five days on a minuscule budget, McBride’s film was a goof on the hyper-seriousness of the documentary process, and laid the groundwork for movies that blurred the line between real life and fiction. “Where most independent productions are founded on self-righteous claims of truth and honesty, McBride’s film wittily observes that Hollywood has no corner on illusionism,” wrote Dave Kehr of the Chicago Reader.


    Real Life (1979)

    At this point, few viewers are likely to believe that reality television isn’t manipulated in some way, be it by heavy editing, music cues, or intentional omissions. Albert Brooks’ directorial debut Real Life satirized such conventions before they became commonplace. Brooks stars as an intrusive, egocentric filmmaker who decides to film the daily doings of an average American family. However, rather than allowing for journalistic detachment, he arrogantly attempts to control his subjects’ lives in order to make a more compelling movie. Made in the wake of PBS’s pioneering reality show An American Family, Real Life deftly demonstrates that reality is hard to come by when the cameras are rolling. Larry Carroll of Countingdown.com called it “a great, underrated, lost gem of a film that accurately predicted and lampooned reality television long before it ever came to be.”


    Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

    By their nature, mockumentaries make us uneasy; the dividing line between fact and fiction is part of the genre’s appeal. However, Cannibal Holocaust did more than disquiet audiences – its director, Ruggero Deodato, was arrested in Italy on charges he’d made a snuff film. Cannibal Holocaust is the story of four documentarians who go missing while filming indigenous peoples in the rainforests of South America. When an anthropologist finds their footage, he learns the distressing, depraved nature of their deaths. Despite the grisly realism of the murders depicted in the film, no humans were actually killed during the making of Cannibal Holocaust (a fact that allowed Deodato to be released from jail), but a number of animals were slaughtered on camera, which led the movie to be banned in several countries. “The effect is now familiar, but back then it was incredibly shocking, as most viewers believed every word of it,” wrote Christopher Null of Filmcritic.com.

    Warning: NSFW on any level.


    Zelig (1983)

    Woody Allen’s strange tale of a “human chameleon” is unique in his body of work; it’s also technically stunning. Allen stars as the title character, a 1930s-era man with the ability to transform himself to fit in with the people around him. Zelig’s story is told in the form of a contemporary documentary, with “academics” and “historians” providing insight into the life and fame of the protagonist. Made 11 years before Forrest Gump, Zelig utilized bluescreen technology to integrate Allen with archive footage; he shows up alongside such noteworthy figures as Charlie Chaplin, Babe Ruth, and Al Capone. Zelig is a “hilarious Woody Allen vehicle, a mockumentary with special effects ahead of its time,” wrote Steve Crum of Dispatch-Tribune Newspapers.


    This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

    This is Spinal Tap marks a turning point for the mockumentary form; what was once fodder for cinematic experimenting became a genre unto itself. Rob Reiner’s hilarious faux-chronicle of the decline of a clueless metal band was so spot on in its details that many failed to realize it wasn’t actually a doc; rock legends like Steven Tyler and Eddie Van Halen barely batted an eyelash at Spinal Tap’s misfortunes, and some close to Reiner asked him why he didn’t choose to follow a better-known band. In a modern-day example of life imitating art, the primary members of Tap — Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer — actually cut records and played stadiums, and the movie became a back-of-the-bus staple for touring bands. The film’s influence on the mock-doc is easy to spot; the Tap trio has gone on to create such fake flicks as Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, while the hip hop-skewering Fear of a Black Hat mines similar satirical territory. “There had been countless documentary spoofs before This Is Spinal Tap, but this inspired put-on was the first to actually capture the texture and style of real documentary,” wrote Sean Axmaker of Seanax.com.


    Bob Roberts (1992)

    As played by Tim Robins, Bob Roberts is sort of a cross between Joe McCarthy and Woody Guthrie: a demagogue disguised as a guitar-playing populist. This mock record of Roberts’ run for a Pennsylvania senate seat has moments that would seem ludicrous were they not so similar to many modern political campaigns. Roberts sings songs that lampoon progressives while extolling greed; his ingratiating affect does much to disguise his mean-spiritedness. Bob Roberts features some hilarious Bob Dylan parodies, as well as a host of well-played small roles (including John Cusack, Susan Sarandon, James Spader, and, in his debut, Jack Black). Robbins may be an avowed left-winger, but his film is less a shot at conservatives than a satire of the ways in which politics has become another form of show business, with the mass media complicit in the spin cycle. “A sort of political This Is Spinal Tap, Bob Roberts is both a stimulating social satire and, for thinking people, a depressing commentary on the devolution of the American political system,” wrote Todd McCarthy of Variety.


    Forgotten Silver (1995)

    Before joining the ranks of superstar directors with the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong, Peter Jackson (and co-director Costa Botes) made this fake tribute to Colin McKenzie, a non-existent New Zealand film pioneer and inventor. In Forgotten Silver, Jackson claims that his discovery of McKenzie’s work proves he’s the creator of modern film, with color and sound among his many cinematic innovations; in addition, Jackson “unearthed” pieces of McKenzie’s greatest achievement, an epic adaptation of the tale of Salome. The movie’s fake interviews and recreated archive footage were so effective that many viewers were stunned to learn it wasn’t real; indeed, Jackson subsequently made a 30-minute follow-up, Behind the Bull, to address Forgotten Silver‘s perplexed audience. “Quite aside from being perhaps the most elaborate prank in Jackson’s career to date (or since), Forgotten Silver is a brilliant piece of moviemaking,” wrote Rob Rob Gonsalves of efilmcritic.com.


    The Blair Witch Project (1999)

    The Blair Witch Project was a word-of-mouth sensation before the term “viral marketing” entered the mainstream lexicon. Directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’ low-budget, monster-free creepshow — purported to be found footage from three documentarians who were killed in the woods of Maryland on the trail of a legendary local apparition — was passed off as the real thing, and their guerrilla campaign was met with an alarming amount of credulity. It didn’t hurt that the film’s stars expertly improvised their way through many ominous scenarios, each time reacting with a level of increased terror that’s hard to fake. Equally effective (or stomach-churning, depending on one’s point of view) was the shaky, hand-held camerawork shot by the participants, which heightened the feeling of impending doom. “The movie’s unfinished, catch-as-catch-can look, complete with jiggly camerawork and sometimes blurred imagery, is one of the primary reasons it’s so disturbing and creepy,” wrote James Sanford of the Kalamazoo Gazette. (Click here for more on the making of the film from Myrick and Sánchez.)


    Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)

    Disarmingly clueless, heedlessly goofy, and loaded with prejudice, Sacha Baron Cohen’s alter ego Borat is quite a character. And by passing himself off as a TV journalist from Kazakhstan, Cohen was able to elicit some remarkably frank (and stunningly boneheaded) admissions from his subjects. Borat takes the form of a road movie, with its protagonist meeting well-known politicians and average folks across the USA while on a mission to meet (and hopefully wed) a certain Baywatch babe. Some find themselves bemused by this odd stranger, while others end up revealing a dark strain of intolerance in the American psyche. Borat is a serious work of social criticism,” wrote Joe Williams of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “but it’s also the funniest movie I’ve ever seen.”


    Surf’s Up (2007)

    While most mockumentaries purport to tell “real” stories, the genre is remarkably flexible. Case in point: Surf’s Up, a CGI feature that documents the trials and tribulations of a surfing penguin. Cody Maverick (voiced by Shia LaBeouf) is a loner in Antarctica, where his obsession with riding the waves are mocked by his penguin peers. Surf’s Up follows Cody as he prepares to compete against a number of talented birds in Big Z Memorial Surf Off, named for Cody’s boyhood idol. The film parodies sports programming, talking-heads docs, and surf films like The Endless Summer; it’s remarkably sophisticated for a kids flick, but never forgets to entertain. “Many of the riffs in the mock documentary might be lost on little tykes, but the film’s feel-good message of perseverance, friendship and finding your own wave should be enjoyed by all,” wrote Kevin Crust of the Los Angeles Times.

    Take a look through the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don’t forget to check out the reviews for Bruno.

    Finally, we leave you with Swiss Spaghetti Harvest, an April Fool’s Day joke aired by the BBC in 1957 that’s considered to be one of the first mockumentaries:

    To celebrate the arrival of über-flamboyant Austrian fashionista Brüno, we’ve hoisted the freak flag high and gathered together 10 of the kookiest, most outlandish characters from film’s far-out fringe.

    So dust off those diamante platform boots and your favourite Jean Paul Gautier corset and get silly with our list of the Top 10 most outrageous film characters.

    10. Armand Goldman (Robin Williams) — The Birdcage

    Decadent and tacky Miami is the perfect setting for this light-hearted farce in which a gay couple — Robin Williams and Nathan Lane — are forced to play it “straight” when their son announces that he’s marrying a conservative Senator’s daughter. Williams’ Armand may not be the most outrageous character in the film, however he gets kudos for his incredibly camp beachside décor — including a slippery slide leading into a pool on his roof and several nude male artworks. But what secures Armand a top 10 spot is his faultless ability to play a homosexual, Jewish cabaret nightclub owner in the ’90s while managing not to get on the bad side of the gay community. One of Williams’ finest moments comes when he announces, “Yes I am a middle-aged fag — but I won’t change for anyone!” It both highlights the integrity of his character and sets him apart from the more stereotypical queens we usually see.

    9. Cruella de Vil (Glenn Close) — 101 Dalmations

    Our only female character (well, technically speaking, at least) is none other than arch Disney super villain Cruella De Vil. Arrogant, selfish and elaborately decorated, Cruella (Glenn Close) gets absurdity points for her Edward Scissorhands-meets-Bride of Frankenstein hairstyle, irrational penchant for wearing puppy fur, over-the-top makeup, fabulously kitsch style and total disregard for anything humane (And she somehow succeeds in continuously smoking cigarettes throughout a children’s film.) That’s not to mention her incessant cackling and evil quotes — like her speech to the Dalmatians, in which she asserts that they “…will all end up as sausage meat… with fries on the side!”

    8. Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) — The Fifth Element

    Although Chris Tucker only has a very short amount of screen time in The Fifth Element, he minces confidently on to this list with his insanely eccentric and screeching flamboyancy. Ruby Rhod is a futuristic, interstellar radio presenter who dresses in a ’70s-style leopard-print gown with a matching cane, and
    has his hair bleached and styled into the shape of a giant, phallic microphone. If that doesn’t strike you as outrageous enough, he’s also — inexplicably — irresistible to women, speaks in an exaggerated pitch and is responsible for a large share of the most hilarious moments in the film. It’s a testament to the stamina of Tucker (and the patienceof the audience) that he practically steals the film from the likes of Gary Oldman, himself in one of his wackier roles.

    The Australian treasure in our Top 10 comes from — what else? — The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Guy Pearce’s massively camp Felicia boasts the kind of perky attitude, cheeky behaviour and extravagant costumes that make a character unique — and, in this case, an unlikely national icon. Felicia’s extraordinary clothing choices range from sequinned vests to rhinestone jackets, which culminate in the various fantastic drag costumes throughout the film — including some elaborate and peculiar headpieces, and a stunning feather tailed burlesque ensemble. And who could ever forget the scene in which Pearce sits astride an enormous silver stiletto on the top of the bus? Dressed in a full length silver sequinned outfit, complete with a jumpsuit, turban, silver face paint, glitter and matching flags with long dramatic wings that flail behind him, Felicia’s outfit is only topped by the fact that Pearce does all of this whist miming to opera as the bus cruises into the outback.

    6. Mugatu (Will Ferrell) — Zoolander

    Zoolander‘s Mugatu — played with demented relish by Will Ferrell — is based on the Star Trek episode “A Private Little War”, which features a crazy monkey with bright white hair called Mugato. Not only does Mugatu suffer from a severe case of “people who look like their dog syndrome”, he dresses his pet poodle up in matching outfits and — much like Bond’s nemesis Blofield, with his white cat — Mugatu’s pet never leaves his side. Mugatu’s costumes are mostly parodies of the outlandish nature of fashion and haute couture, such as his “Derelicte” campaign, “inspired by the very homeless, the vagrants, the crack whores that make this wonderful city so unique”. (It’s also been hinted that Derelicte is a send-up of an actual John Galliano line.) Miranda Priestly is a saint next to this guy: he plans to kill the Malaysian prime minister in order to prevent his sweatshops being closed, poses as a school girl in order to brainwash Zoolander, and spills his entire hot coffee all over his assistant just because he didn’t like it with foam on top (okay, that one we can kind of understand). But perhaps Mugatu’s most outrageous moment is his claim that he invented the piano neck tie. Preposterous.

    5. Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) — Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

    Something very strange happened in the transition of Willy Wonka’s character from Gene Wilder’s portrayal to Johnny Depp’s version. If Tim Burton’s reimagining didn’t attain the iconic status of the old movie, then Depp’s interpretation of the infamous chocaleteer certainly made up for it by travelling to the outer limits of the character’s insanity. Every aspect of Wonka’s flamboyant personality seems to be exaggerated and distorted — both for better and for worse. Depp’s Wonka is a nervous, quirky man clinging to a kind of childish arrogance — reflecting the fact that he obviously got stuck somewhere in the psychological transition from childhood to adulthood. Depp’s mannerisms scream camp and his sartorial style — purple leather gloves, top hat, velvet red coat and candy-swirl cane — aren’t likely to land him the cover of GQ. Wonka’s weird, disjointed speech, menacing clacking teeth and way with unprompted non-sequiturs only adds to his absurdity — and he’s not averse to laughing at his own jokes in between choreographing midget dancers and sending greedy brats to their doom. Also, probably a cannibal: “Everything in this room is eatable,” he giggles. “Even I’m eatable.”

    4. Jareth (David Bowie) — Labyrinth

    The instant that David Bowie emerges onto our screen with that fantastically loud glam-rock mullet hairstyle, silver eye make up, a dramatic cape and — his piece de resistance — a pair of anatomically-hugging jodhpurs that bend the young mind, we can but gaze in awe at this ridiculous, grandiose creature. Then — just when we think that we’ve seen it all — he begins to sing. With Muppets. Each musical sequence in Labyrinth provides a new opportunity for Bowie to croon melodramatically, chastize his cavern of goblins and ogres, and taunt his petrified baby-captive (who he also enjoys throwing dangerously into the air). Bowie’s Goblin King really puts his outrageous cards on the table when he declares, “I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.” Remind us again: why would Jennifer Connolly want to escape from this man and return to boring suburbia? Silly girl!

    3. Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) — Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

    Before Tim Burton made Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Paul Reubens’ signature comedy character was in a television special aimed at adults. Burton and Reubens might have toned down the humour in order to appeal to a younger audience, but movies have rarely seen a more eccentric figure — part eternal innocent, part fringe oddity and, to anyone who saw him at a formative age, more than a little bit unnerving. Burton’s ability to communicate the bizarre, combined with Reubens’ controversial character, ensures the makings of one peculiar icon. Well, any pale, nerdy, naive man that gets around on a Schwinn cruiser bicycle in a grey plaid suit, red bow tie with matching rouge lipstick and short black hairstyle is already on his way to pop culture immortality. Who doesn’t remember his bar-top dance to “Tequila”, or childish retort: “I know you are, but what am I!”?

    2. Divine (Divine) — Pink Flamingos

    It might be more than three decades old, but make no mistake — bad-taste auteur John Waters’ Pink Flamingos is one shocking piece of work that could shame even Sacha Baron Cohen’s most extreme inclinations. Its lead player “Divine” is an obese, vile and gleefully distasteful drag queen who proudly holds the title of the “Filthiest Person Alive”. Her proto-punk makeup (incredibly high eyebrows, blue eye shadow, dark blush, strong uneven lipstick and dramatic eyeliner), chanelling of Liz Taylor at her most shrieking, and gallery of trashy skin-tight dresses results in an unforgettably tacky character who exists beyond the bounds of most peoples’ idea of society. (She was also, infamously, the inspiration for The Little Mermaid‘s Ursula.) Nothing is sacred in this film, from bestiality to incest, abortion and a real scene in which Divine eats dog poo! Definitely not for those of you with a weak stomach.

    1. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry)– The Rocky Horror Picture Show

    Our first glimpse of Frank-N-Furter is of his sparkling, diamante-encrusted platform shoes tapping away to the soundtrack tune of “Sweet Transvestite”. A moment later he’s revealed to us in a long dark cape and big, scruffy Robert Smith black hair, dark gothic makeup and loud red lipstick. He strips off the cape to expose nothing but lingerie: including a corset, ripped fingerless gloves, thigh-high nylons and a pearl necklace. “I’m just a sweet transvestite,” he announces, “from transsexual Transylvania.” What’s more, he’s irresistible to both men and women — we’d like to see Bruno pull that off!

    Happy Friday Harvest, a weekly round-up of the
    best pictures, posters, and videos that have become available for
    viewing/download on Rotten Tomatoes. Each section features the favorite or most
    interesting item we’ve
    added for the week, along with several other new highlights. Enjoy!


    Picture Gallery of the Week:

    Blood: The Last Vampire

    Based on the popular anime of the same name, this live-action adaptation
    is set in post-war Japan, telling the story of a vampiric,
    government-contracted demon hunter whose next target is one of her
    classmates. That’s a lot
    of plot for a movie that most of us, presuming from the pictures, would’ve settled
    with 90 minutes of cute girls with swords killing things.
    Browse the gallery.

    More New Pictures

    A Perfect Getaway

    Milla Jovovich in island mind games and violence

    Transformers 2

    Final batch of production stills

    G.I. Joe

    25+ new images for the other Hasbro summer flick


    UK premiere images: Sasha Baron Cohen gets cheeky
    Year One
    Red carpet with Michael Cera, Jack Black and more


    Poster of the Week:
    Inglourious Basterds Italian poster

    Among the plethora of teaser and character posters for Inglourious
    , it’s only fitting that art to trump them all should come from
    Italy, land of spaghetti Westerns filmmakers and that movie that’s also
    called Inglorious Bastards (though otherwise unrelated to this movie). The Italian poster is a slick combination of modern design and
    B-movie, destined-for-late-night-cable schlock sensibilities. And only in QT’s universe would we see Eli Roth get equal billing with Brad Pitt.
    View the poster.

    More New Posters

    Case 39

    Renee Zellweger thriller

    A Perfect Getaway

    Emerald terror

    Ong-Bak 2

    Badass art

    G.I. Joe

    Lots o’ character posters


    Robert Rodriguez’s next flick


    Video of the Week:

    Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen exclusive clip

    Hey. So there’s this movie coming out (it’s a sequel, did anyone even see
    the first one?), about this dork and his
    inexplicably hot girlfriend and a bunch of talking robots. It’s based on a
    freaking line of toys of all things. Well, anyways, Rotten Tomatoes is
    offering this
    exclusive clip. We’re just trying to drum up
    some interest in the movie.

    Watch the video

    More New Videos

    Shutter Island

    First trailer

    Year One

    9 videos

    Public Enemies

    Exclusive: Depp vs Bale

    The Hurt Locker

    Exclusive: Intense stand-off in Iraq

    Want to keep up to date on ALL the pictures, posters, and videos that are added to Rotten Tomatoes throughout the week? Then check out the
    Trailers & Pictures page,
    which is automatically updated as material is uploaded.

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