Thanks to a plot that's delightfully simple and richly funny, “It’s Bruno!” is possibly the easiest show to binge. With eight episodes that are each approximately 15 minutes long, Netflix's latest comedy proved to be a very entertaining way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
“It’s Bruno!” spins a comedic tale about Malcolm (Solvan "Slick" Naim), his dog Bruno, and their misadventures in their Brooklyn neighborhood. Among other things, Malcolm competes with another dog owner who thinks his dog is best, bickers with a supermarket owner who won’t allow pets in the store, and protects Bruno from Crackhead Carl’s crazy cart.
The entire set of characters in the neighborhood form a fantastic crew for Malcolm and Bruno to face off or team up with. Neighbors like Charlie might antagonize Malcolm in the first episode by calling his dog the wrong name, or ally themselves with him in the next episode to punish a “shit and runner,” only to then make a couple of appearances in some of the later episodes. Each is developed enough for quirks to shine through and to fit into the somewhat cohesive storyline, but lacks any serious character development to keep the show light and versatile.
Each episode of "It's Bruno!" is a mini comedic sketch that builds to a grander plot line. The humor lies not in the dialogue, but in the camera techniques, the music, and in the brilliant way that Solvan “Slick” Naim—the show’s creator, writer, director, and actor of Malcolm—treats the dogs as humanistic characters who react to different conflicts with perked ears or big, droopy eyes. When Malcolm and Bruno face off against Harvey and his dog, Angie, Western music begins to play, already over-dramatizing the otherwise absurd scene. A close-up shot of Angie and her discolored eyebrows give the illusion that she is narrowing her eyes. The camera bounces back from Malcolm to Harvey, from Bruno to Angie, accompanied each time by a whooshing sound to complete the melodrama. When Malcolm and Bruno emerge victorious, they walk away in slow motion.
The camerawork takes on a life of its own throughout the show. In a later episode, Bruno is kidnapped by a dancing kid and his father. Obviously, Malcolm lurches into a tailspin without his beloved companion. Dutch angles and a wobbly camera reflect his shaky reality. When a neighborhood woman discusses the evils Malcolm commits during his tailspin to her manicurist, the camera dramatically punctuates each listed evil by jumping closer to her face with accompanying sound effects.
The charm of the show is that it’s not overdone. Malcolm and Bruno aren’t getting into anything too crazy — they’re merely interacting with an eccentric group of characters and playing out absurd scenarios realistically and delightfully. The visual and sound effects help to hyperbolize the scenes, adding to their hilarity. When Bruno confronts his dog’s kidnappers, which comprise the dancing kid and his father, we see Malcolm and the kid each perform the first act of their dance-off. For the kid’s second act, however, lights flash on behind him, the camera pans out and down, and the music picks up in tempo and volume as the kid begins to dance, giving him the illusion of being larger than life and decisively defeating Malcolm before the latter can even respond.
The show recognizes that its premise of a man and his dog is simple and even mundane. But through dynamic characters, inventive camerawork, overdramatic music, and cute dogs, Solvan “Slick” Naim has transformed this show into something much bigger. The humor isn’t always one that will make you laugh out loud, but it’s certainly a funny and easy two–hour binge.