Bruno Movie Review
Independent Films, Interviews
Anal bleaching, talking penis, kinky sex, and dildos-on-parade – just some of the running gags of the new mockumentary comedy film “Bruno” starring Sacha Baron Cohen. If you find these risqué subjects offensive, you have been warned.
But talking penises aside, “Bruno” is a laugh-out-loud politically incorrect film that targets homophobia. Similar to Cohen’s “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” bigotry is the focal point of the movie and the source of many guffaws.
I have always been an admirer of Cohen’s work. The comedian has emerged as one of the most politically astute humorists of his generation. Sure, he courts controversy for the sake of laughter, but how can you hate someone who will do anything to make you chuckle and dare I say it, think?
In “Bruno,” Cohen stars as the raucous title character. He’s a gay fashionista from Austria who is the host of “Funkyzeit Mit Bruno,” a top-rated late night fashion show in any German-speaking country…apart from Germany.
The narrative moves forward when Bruno loses his job after crashing an actual Milan fashion show by designer Agatha Ruiz De La Prada. He is schwarz-listed. But our hero dusts himself off and decides to move to Hollywood. His mission? To become the biggest Austrian celebrity since Hitler!
Accompanied by his dutiful assistant Lutz (Swedish actor Gustaf Hammarsten), Bruno goes on a globe-trotting tour in search of fame. Cohen turns the spotlight on the notion of celebrity and the idea of being famous. One-by-one, supposed “media savvy” celebrities lined up to be interviewed by Bruno.
One of them is Paula Abdul. The “American Idol” judge is seen sitting on the back of a Mexican man in a running gag about using Mexican gardeners as armchairs. LaToya Jackson’s similar clip has been cut out of respect for the Jackson family. In the deleted scene, Bruno grills LaToya about Michael Jackson.
But my favorite among the celebrity interviews is Ron Paul. The former presidential hopeful becomes Bruno’s erotic object of desire to which Paul responds by storming off and muttering “he’s a queer!”
Cohen reteams with his “Borat” director, Larry Charles, to give us one of the funniest films of the year. Even though their new collaboration is not as fresh as their first movie, Cohen and Charles still managed to play with their subjects’ chauvinism and prejudice.
“Bruno” is a film divided into many interesting subplots. There’s Bruno as Madonna when he decides to adopt an African baby. There’s also Bruno vs. straight Alabama hunters. And then there’s Bruno hoping for world peace when he visits the Middle East (he calls it Middle Earth) to bridge the relationship between Palestinians and the Israelis.
Much of the film’s setups work, but I can’t help but question the authenticity of each construct. Did Cohen really prank the celebrities or were they in on the joke? What about the crowd of Arkansas wrestling fans who get upset when Bruno displays gay affection in a cage fight?
What I really want to see is a documentary about the making of “Bruno.” The film’s production notes tell intriguing behind-the-scenes stories such as the crew receiving calls from the FBI warning of death threats, dodging clenched fists, angry mobs, and loaded guns.
“Bruno” is like foreplay to an interesting movie. The mockumentary which aimed to show our bigotry experienced prejudice from its very subjects.
And for that, “Bruno” gets 3 schadenfreude kisses
Year of Production: 2009
Country: United States