Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mortification at the Movies


Did it occur to anyone in Hollywood that fans of Sacha Baron Cohen's edgy/outrageous humor might be coming to his latest flick with family members in tow?

Specifically... one's sweet and especially innocent 14-year-old son?

Well, innocent no more, thanks to the proliferation of penises, deluge of dildos, scenes of actual sex, heart-stopping Hitler references, gaudy gay overlay, Mideast mangling, black-baiting, tongue-burning language torture and generally perverted prank that is Bruno.

Make no mistake: I live for this stuff. The jokes and sight gags were coming fast and furious, the audience around me was nearly frenzied with hysterical laughter and I had tears streaming down my face from repeated convulsions of mirth.

The problem was balancing my enjoyment of the movie's breathtaking chutzpah with sheer mortification, for sitting to my left, my young teen was watching simulated gay oral sex, a naked dominatrix with overstuffed boobs weilding a whip and other such visual delights.

More than once, a reflexive maternal hand flew up over his eyes to block his vision...shaking, because I was shaking with hysterics.

Whether or not Bruno is a good film is up for debate. It is certainly a shockfest, one which I would see again and again. It also showcases its star's ingenuity, fearlessness and intelligence, not to mention lithe, waxed and often unclothed body.

The issue is that Bruno, and several other films like it, need a special warning to go with them, something that prepares filmgoers for the terrific squirming that will overtake them if they are seeing the movie in the company of, say, their children or -- horrors! -- their parents.

When we left the theatre on Saturday night, I noted that my shirt was sticking to my body. I had literally broken out into a sweat with worry about how this film would effect my son and equally, what he would think of the mother who sanctioned his consumption of this lurid entertainment.

It reminded me of the nearly-equally icky time I watched The Heartbreak Kid with my parents at their home. Except then, I wasn't worried that I was poisoning someone's developing mind.

But perhaps I needn't have fretted. Seated afterwards at Fine and Shapiro, the kosher deli on West 72nd Street, I asked Little Babe for his assessment.

"Funny," he declared, biting into a hamburger. "But really, really weird."

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