James (Macaulay Culkin) and Heather (Alexis Dziena) have a problem. Heather loves him but cannot climax with him during sex. Ellis (Kuno Becker) and Renee (Eliza Dushku) also have a problem in that she isn’t as sure about their relationship as he is and wants to experiment by having a lesbian encounter. Each couple meanders their way to Dr. Wellbridge (Joanna Miles) whose group sex therapy system has helped an appreciative crowd to broaden their horizons. The two couples are paired up and their dull partner-swapping evening results in big changes for all four people involved. “Dull” is the operative word here as Sex and Breakfast never ignites any interest in the characters individually nor as a group. And even more mysteriously for a film that centers around sex it is completely sexless and non-erotic-- even while the four are in the midst of having intercourse in the same bedroom. Macaulay Culkin has grown up to have a face that is strangely un-cinematic. He’s not exactly ugly but he is certainly not handsome with his pale skin flared nostrils and bulging eyes. Plus his character in Sex and Breakfast is a total dullard whose only interesting quality seems to be that he is a nice guy--which makes it something of a Hollywood mystery as to why such a beautiful woman as Alexis Dziena would be living with him in the first place. She is the opposite of Culkin with a face that drinks up the camera and draws all eyes to her when she is onscreen. But she cannot sustain her scenes with Culkin alone and they fall flat throughout. Eliza Dushku is also a pretty woman; her pairing with handsome Kuno Becker is in keeping with the more traditional Hollywood pretty people combos but their scenes together are equally enervating. It’s as if the four of them got together and agreed to keep the tone of the story so flat and unemotional as to suck all the life out of it. Two bright spots are Joanna Miles as the shrink who puts the two couples together and Jamie Ray Newman as the waitress who serves them both breakfast and entices Renee toward acting on her lesbian leanings. Writer/director Miles Brandman is apparently hoping to follow in the footsteps of greats like Ingmar Bergman the late Swedish filmmaker who understood perfectly how to create movies about interpersonal relationships that literally jumped off the screen and into one’s own psyche. Sadly Brandman has a long way to go to reach that skilled level of storytelling and filmmaking. The one thing he does right here is to set his tale of insipid people in Los Angeles the place where insipid people flock to from all over the world. The problem is these people have no soul and are excruciating to spend time with. Perhaps Brandman should try blowing some stuff up in his next film? At least that would be something to keep audiences from looking at their watches every five minutes to see how much longer there is to go until his movie is mercifully over.
Jagshemash! (Note: Excuse please any and all Borat-isms in this review. They've infiltrated our vernacular--just like they will yours! Chenquieh.) Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) a noted celebrity and TV talking head in his native Kazakhstan is set to travel to U.S. and A. for well make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan. With a camera crew and his show's director Azamat Bagatov (Ken Davitian) along for the ride Borat stops first in New York City. It is a nice! Like anyone from a faraway land he is amazed that his hotel room is larger than an elevator and by all the peoples on the subway and by Pamela Anderson. In fact he is so smitten after watching his first Baywatch episode that his mission has changed: He will go to California and marry Pamela and hopefully make a sexy time! Of course he and Azamat will still have to cross the country--in their ice cream truck--to get there stopping along the way in the biggest cities and smallest towns and seeing everything from "vanilla faces" and "chocolate faces" to women who get to choose their sexual partners. If Academy voters had any "khram" whatsoever they'd give Cohen an Oscars invite...which he'd promptly parlay into the opening scene for Borat 2. And who in their right mind wouldn't just kill to see that acceptance speech?! But I optimistically digress. Any breakdown of Cohen's inhabitance of his alter ego Borat--one of three from his beloved Da Ali G Show; he's reportedly set to immortalize Bruno his gay Austrian fashionista from the show next--reveals what is stealthily one of the best performance in years. Before you scoff consider the indisputable facts: In Borat Cohen is (a) pretending to be if not totally becoming someone else and (b) has positively just one take to nail each scene and nail each scene he does. If those don't comprise an amazing performance in the most fundamental sense then what's the criterion? And not to be forgotten in all that Cohen pulls off here is Borat's entire straight-faced diction--from the accent to the word usage--which audiences could appreciate more in earnest if their howls of laughter didn't overpower some of the dialogue but who can blame 'em? Lest we forget veteran actor Davitian (a California native!) has a hand in quite a bit of the madness as well. One of his scenes in particular will be burned into your memory for a long time to come. Oh you'll know it when you see it--it's the one that makes a Steve-O stunt look like PBS programming. Borat is admittedly not for everyone because some people just don't like to laugh! In all seriousness--and more so as an obligatory disclaimer--the movie is beyond offensive and some people will walk out. But the worst thing you can do is dismiss it even if you just skip it. Because underneath Cohen's mustache that puts Earl Hickey's to shame his soiled suit and his who's-gonna-know-it's-faux? Kazakh accent the British comedian is interested not in attacking America but rather in exposing its underbelly that is rarely vulnerable--in other words if he didn't want to wake people up with this film it would've been called Cultural Learnings of Switzerland (which still would've been pretty funny). Thus his intentions while not necessarily educational fall somewhere between hilarity and eye-opening satire--not vitriol. Director Larry Charles (Seinfeld Curb Your Enthusiasm Entourage) must have some stories to tell his grandchildren about the guerilla-style hit-and-run filmmaking that was executed but as co-writer star and character creator Cohen shoulders all the onus credit and death threats. His anonymity and privacy might take some hits too. Speaking of which he is indeed Jewish. Unfortunately for Cohen however he's not also black mentally or physically handicapped gay a female a gypsy a Kazakhstani or an animal. Which is to say loosen up people! Nobody goes untouched here least of all the man perpetrating the offenses.