On DVD Bruno


There is nothing one can do to prepare for the homo-erotic ridiculousness of “Bruno.” The boundaries of R-rated comedy have been pushed and pushed over the last ten years and “Bruno” is the point on the scale in which we realize just how far we’ve gone. The shock value of deeply committed character actor Sacha Baren Cohen’s newest project makes his last film, “Borat,” seem PG-13. Good for some of the most outrageous laughs, “Bruno” will literally force you to pry your fingers from your face in order to watch the film. As for Cohen’s biting satire — “Borat” remains the sharper and more dynamic.

One of Cohen’s three characters along with Borat from his old HBO series “Da Ali G Show,” Bruno is a gay Austrian fashion reporter who loves the limelight and, well, being a homosexual. Much like “Borat,” Bruno journeys to America, this time with the dream of becoming famous after his show is cancelled. That takes him to Los Angeles, where, accompanied by his assistant Lutz, (Gustaff Hammarsten) who secretly lusts after Bruno, he attempts to do whatever he can to become the most famous gay movie star in the world.

To achieve his goal, Bruno cooks up a series of absurd ideas, including interviewing celebrities, creating his own TV pilot, trying to make a sex tape, trying to solve peace in the middle east (the philanthropic route) and even adopting an African baby who he fittingly names O.J. “Bruno” essentially becomes one attempt to dupe the public or celebrities or what have you after another. It is when Bruno arrives at the conclusion that he must be straight to be famous that the film makes it attempt to broadcast the homophobia in America.

As someone with tremendous respect for the way “Borat” really made a satirical statement with every scene (in addition to having a more focused plot), “Bruno” didn’t live up to the intelligence factor I expected. The film is a bit too helter-skelter: it doesn’t commit to any message or series of messages like “Borat” did. There’s a dash of exploiting our celebrity- obsessed culture, a hint of trying to make Americans ashamed of what they’ll do — specifically to their bodies — for fame and only in the second half when Bruno starts asking interviewees how he can become straight does the homophobia factor play in. “Bruno” just gets too caught up in making our jaws drop instead of picking and choosing those spots and giving us something to think about.

There’s a slight sense that Cohen’s act has tired out, but the character seems like it has a lot new to offer, and that we should be getting something more thought-provoking and less provocative. Bruno is just not as lovable — he lacks a flaw like Borat’s ignorance/naivety — and the film tries to make up for it by piling on crude and unabashed humor. If a bit more time was taken to establish his character and why becoming famous is so important to him, “Bruno” would easily measure up to Borat (and not imply genital size).

“Bruno” is another hysterical romp from Cohen, especially for those who particularly love his candid camera/Punk’d type scenes getting real reactions from real people. The humor is very in-your-face and pretty much nails down all the ridiculous things that garner people fame in this sometimes very sad country of ours. At the same time, if Cohen and his writers could have channeled the discomfort they knew their film would create into an insightful experience for the audience, “Bruno” would be another instant classic. Instead, it’s a raunchy, gut-busting and “uber-gay” comedy stunt.

3.5/5 Stars

“Bruno” (2009)
Directed by: Larry Charles
Written by: Sacha Baren Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer, Jeff Schaffer, Peter Baynam
Starring: Sacha Baren Cohen


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