SXSW Review: ‘Brand: A Second Coming’

Brand: A Second Coming SXSW Review

I’m a big fan of Russell Brand. When I first saw him in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, he was like a huge bolt of energy popping off the screen. He was hilarious, original and one of a kind. His appearances on Howard Stern throughout the years only solidified that for me. I even dragged myself out of my apartment last year (I think it was last year) and went to see his stand-up show, Messiah Complex, when he came to town.

The past couple of years, Brand has seemed to give up his acting career in favor of something more honorable: becoming an activist. It’s a noble thing to do and if anyone can get the word out to young people on things that are important to our world, it’s Brand. This is primarily the basis for the new documentary, Brand: A Second Coming, which had its premiere at SXSW.

Directed by Ondi Timoner, the doc follows the multi-hyphenate (comedian/actor/author/activist/rabble-rouser) into the second coming of his career, activism. We first get his back-story of drug abuse, MTV days and rise to fame and marriage to pop superstar Katy Perry but it’s when the doc begins to focus on his desire to “create a global revolution of consciousness” it really becomes something.

According to the film, it all started when he took a trip to Kenya. At first, he says, it was to make him look like a good guy but when he saw the horrors of what was going on there – children foraging through miles of trash for food – it changed his life.

The film delves into that transformation. We watch him in stand-up, the process of writing his book, Revolution, meeting activists from the Occupy Wall Street movement and the creation of his YouTube channel, Trews.

I found it all very interesting and entertaining but as a Brand fan, I didn’t really learn anything new. There were some interesting moments with Katy Perry that were fun and insightful (on both Brand’s and Perry’s parts) but the audience isn’t learning anything we haven’t really known prior.

Another minor problem with the film is that it feels a bit long. There are moments and scenes that hammer you with the same point (his activism) again and again.

This doesn’t mean the film is a bust because it isn’t by a long shot. Any true fan, those that are just discovering him or those that may just stumble upon the film will walk away with a new found respect for Russell Brand.

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