I saw Brüno at a preview screening this week, and Humpday at SIFF—two packed houses, two big screens.  Here's why I think your time is better spent with Seattle director Lynn Shelton's little local film.

1. Sacha Baron Cohen thinks you're an idiot.  Lynn Shelton doesn't.
SBC lives by making fools out of people.  But it's not just idiot celebrities or rabid MMA fans being lampooned in this movie:  It's the audience.  Wait, you mean redneck hunters don't want a strange naked man crawling into their tents in the middle of the night?  Are they–gasp–homophobic?  Well, who'da thunk?

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Humpday (Lynn Shelton, USA, 2009)"]Humpday (Lynn Shelton, USA, 2009)[/caption]

Lynn Shelton, on the other hand, knows that a fully-clothed one-on-one basketball game can say more about male gender dynamics than even the most X-rated sex scene.  She's asking subtler questions about sexual identity, and she's not forcing answers.

2. Humpday has characters, not just caricatures.
Each character in Humpday is lovingly drawn—good intentions, imperfections and all. From the guys whose urge to break out of their stereotypes (boring husband, loser artist) leads to an ill-conceived porno project, to the wife (cooler than her husband thinks), these are real people.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="158" caption="Brüno (Larry Charles, USA, 2009)"]Brüno (Larry Charles, USA, 2009)[/caption]

Brüno often seems more like CGI than the already-famous talking penis in the credits of his television show. What's more, he's an asshole; you don't have to be homophobic to hate Brüno, and it's hard to root for him.

3. You like to laugh, right?
Unless you think the penetration of willing or unwilling asses and male tongue in male throat is just hi-larious, Brüno will probably leave you cold. Cohen's humor isn't too offensive; it's too obvious, especially when it's lifted straight out of his last movie.  The mispronunciation of "vagina" only deserves so many laughs.

Packed with subtle performances, Humpday has at least one good laugh in every scene. Lynn Shelton trusts you to get why it's funny that an "open-minded" dude going into a threesome with two bi ladies gets freaked out by a dildo.  Or how ridiculous two average joes with a cheap video camera in a motel room are, when they realize they're all undressed with no place to go.

Buy local!  See Humpday!  Plays at the Harvard Exit at 2:00, 4:30, 7:00 and 9:20.
Don't trust me?  Want to see Brüno for yourself?  Playing here.
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