‘Brand: A Second Coming’ Review: An Engaging Portrait of the Comedian-Turned-Commentator

March 14, 2015 7:52 AM

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‘Brand: A Second Coming’ Review: An Engaging Portrait of the Comedian-Turned-Commentator

Russell Brand created some high-profile drama at the last minute by choosing not to attend the world premiere of Ondi Timoner’s documentary about him (or give his scheduled keynote speech) at SXSW — probably getting more press than he would have by showing up as planned. The suspicion that this might be a clever ruse is underlined by “Brand: A Second Coming” itself, which, despite the subject’s excuses that it was too revealingly “uncomfortable” for his stomach, reveals little that many fans and detractors don’t already know. It’s also quite a flattering, as well as entertaining and (natch) funny, portrait of a comic talent remaking himself from pop-tart celebrity to (still funny) political commentator/agitator. Brand’s large, loyal constituency should eat this up in various formats; it won’t alter the opinions of those who don’t like him, but then they’re unlikely to be queueing up anyway.

The film’s curious history, briefly detailed by Timoner onstage after the SXSW premiere, began with a docu called “Happiness” six years ago, with a very different focus and Brand as just one major participant. Several directors passed through before Timoner was reportedly asked to save the movie a c...

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