"RUSSELL BRAND IN NEW YORK CITY"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Russell Brand as HIMSELF
Studio: Comedy Central
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Most Americans didn’t know who Russell Brand was until he became a sudden star in last year’s hit “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Or, on a more controversial level, until he hosted the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards during which he gave what some saw as an inflammatory political speech. With his Comedy Central stand-up special, Brand gives the audience a chance to look into his twisted mind while offering an explanation for the VMA monologue. The hour-long special includes his unique “Brand” of humor and displays why he is a celebrity in his home country.
WHAT I LIKED
Say whatever you want to about Russell Brand, but you can’t say that he’s at least not interesting. Brand stole the show in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” from some very funny guys, and for good reason. The man is the entire package of entertainment, and he lays his schtick on thick.
Not a big fan of MTV, I missed the 2008 VMA awards, but I got a real kick hearing what Brand’s behind-the-scenes take was on the whole debacle. Knowing how the entertainment industry works, I definitely understood where he was coming from, but I also realized that the controversy behind the event was probably Brand’s best hope for media attention. He played the media like a fiddle.
As a comedian, Brand is mediocre. However, like Andy Kaufman, as a performance artist, he is quite fascinating. Brand keeps up his on-stage persona throughout the show – and well through the special features – so much that you wonder if the man is actually like this in real life. It gives you hope that he just might help revive the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise if the rumors of Brand’s casting are true.
The best parts of his stand-up special come from off the wall deliveries that seem to come from nowhere. The man can be completely crass and vulgar while staying charming to a certain degree. The nice thing about his delivery is that even when the jokes mine old territory (e.g., the usual jokes about sex and various urges), they are given to us in such a way that we haven’t heard them before... or at least haven’t heard them in this way before.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Brand is not a master comedian, and his humor definitely comes from the British angle. He’s out there enough to capture the interest of an American audience, but it still seems very odd. Sure, this DVD is marked “Extended & Uncensored,” but that’s something we see on everything from foul-mouthed comics like Chris Rock to Playhouse Disney selections. (I do exaggerate a bit; Chris Rock’s latest DVD wasn’t advertised as “Uncensored.”)
I like Russell Brand to a degree, but there’s really not too many jokes from his special that I find myself quoting or replaying to show my wife later in the day.
In case you missed the 2008 MTV VMA monologue, this is presented on the DVD in its uncensored glory. Admittedly, this isn’t that bad, considering the outcome of the 2008 election and how things settle once the extreme pundits’ dust settles. However, it is an excellent addition in the special features menu and offers a nice point of reference for the rest of the show.
Additional bonus material includes “An Englishman in New York,” which is a behind-the-scenes video of Brand running around New York causing all sorts of shenanigans, as well as “Loose Cannon Drunk Girl” which features him dealing with a loud-mouthed audience member in the front row.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of Russell Brand and anyone who wants to see something just a little bit different.