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Review: ‘Brand: A Second Coming’ tracks comic’s rebirth

Russell Brand

Director Ondi Timoner is convinced, however, of something magnetically transformative in Brand’s efforts to trade self-destructive rock-star narcissism for the kind of greatness that drove Russell Brand’s political heroes.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

When anarchic British comedian Russell Brand crawled out of a syringe and into a prophet’s robes to become a self-professed agent for spiritual and cultural revolution (with jokes), the reaction was a mixture of “Huh?” and “Cool” and “Wasn’t he married to Katy Perry?”

Director Ondi Timoner is convinced, however, of something magnetically transformative in Brand’s efforts to trade self-destructive rock-star narcissism for the kind of greatness that drove Brand’s political heroes — Gandhi, Malcolm X and Jesus, among others. Her movie “Brand: A Second Coming,” which arose out of a project he asked Timoner to work on, traces the merry/mad prankster’s roots in lower-middle-class England, early dreams of fame, chaotic dealings with said stardom, and eventual post-rehab epiphany that he could use his bristling intelligence, foul-mouthed wit and public notoriety to change a broken world.

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But is what he wants (government overthrow, a new era of selfless giving) possible and realistic? Or will he just be the funny guy at a GQ event who calls out Hugo Boss for clothing Nazis and the comedian who runs roughshod over TV interviewers?

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Timoner is ultimately too enamored of pumped-up montages and proximity to Brand’s motormouth virtuosity to make her film much more than a youth-centered rallying cry. Whether you agree with his system-damning rhetoric or see him as no better than anyone else in our clogged punditocracy, “Brand: A Second Coming” is, if not a careful portrait, at least an orgy of personality.

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“Brand: A Second Coming”

MPAA rating: None.

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Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes.

Playing: ArcLight Hollywood.


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