Daily Archives: March 28, 2011

by Benjamin Hale



The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore is narrated by a talking chimpanzee.  “Bruno” is not a very pleasant ape.  He has learned a lot of big words, and he loves to parade them.  Although he’s a regular-sized chimp and he’s plagued by insecurities, his ego is the size of King Kong and he feels superior to most primates – including humans.  Especially humans.  Does that sound like the kind of “hero” with whom you want to spend 576 pages?  At first, I didn’t think I wanted to, but I’m glad I hung in there with Bruno, because this book is an absolute knockout.  Hale, who is all of 27 years old (the bastard!), has written a debut novel that practically screams out, “Literature is not dead!”

Bruno is not without flaws.  There are times when the reader’s suspension of disbelief is sorely tested; this is, after all, a talking chimpanzee we’re asked to accept.  But the book works on so many levels:  unforgettable characters, penetrating insights about human nature; comedy and tragedy.   Mostly, it’s the irascible, disturbing Bruno himself that will stay with you – whether you want him to or not.


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“Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night.” – Woody Allen

Someone must have mentioned Allen’s quote to “Smith,” the sexually confused hero of the science-fiction/sex romp Kaboom, a movie as screwed up as its young protagonist.

Kaboom is what I’m calling a mumbo-jumbo movie, with equal parts claptrap and hogwash.  It chronicles the sexual misadventures of Smith as all manner of inexplicable, spooky things keep happening to him.  A mumbo-jumbo movie deserves a mumbo-jumbo review, so here you go:

Mumbo:  Watching this film is a bit like watching soft-core pornography:  The filmmakers realized that some sort of story was needed to fill in the gaps between sex scenes, so they tossed in every element from old episodes of The X-Files – murderous cults, voodoo, the paranormal, and … oh yes, the end of the world.

Jumbo:  Lots of skin on display here.  If you are a “boob man,” you will be happy.  If you are a “butt man,” you will be disappointed (see my low grade).  If you are gay or female, you might be pleased.  But everyone will, or should, barf at what passes for a plot.

Mumbo:  The direction is very ambitious, what with having to put on film things like hallucinations, dreams, and the Earth blowing up.  Too bad the special effects budget was nowhere near as ambitious.

Jumbo:  The young women in this movie are all condescending, world-weary, and sarcastic.  The young men are all childlike, stupid, or childlike and stupid.  Sound familiar?  Yes, indeed:  It’s yet another Judd Apatow movie.

Mumbo Jumbo:  There were two quotes in the film that I liked:  Stella – “It’s a well-known fact that dreams are just your brains taking a dump at the end of the day.  They don’t mean anything.”

And:  Smith – “You had something better to do?” Stella – “Uh, sucking a fart out of a dead seagull’s ass?”

There is also a scene in which a dumb, blond surfer dude attempts to fellate himself.  I guess he discovered a way to top Woody Allen, tripling his chances for a Saturday-night date.              Grade:  D+




Director:  Gregg Araki  Cast:  Thomas Dekker, Haley Bennett, Juno Temple, James Duval, Andy Fischer-Price, Nicole LaLiberte, Kelly Lynch,  Roxane Mesquida, Christine Nguyen, Chris Zylka  Release:  2011



Kaboom4            Kaboom5

Kaboom6            Kaboom7


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