Directed by Larry Charles
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen and that’s all that matters really…
There are a lot of extremely funny moments in Brüno where you probably won’t laugh out loud. By all rights, you should- but don’t. Moments like these make you realise exactly how over-exposed Sacha Baron Cohen’s newest project has been over the past few months. The outrageous nature of the comedy and the stunts has ensured a good deal of mainstream media attention, compounded by a nauseating marketing campaign replaying a few snippets of the feature constantly. This means that excellent bits of material are no longer funny in the film proper, having run their course long before you even enter the cinema. What’s left of the film is a relatively mixed bag, with some superb highs and very dull lows.
Brüno’s structure is a lot like its spiritual predecessor, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, in that its narrative serves only as a vehicle for progressively more outlandish jokes and stunts on the unsuspecting. There is Brüno at the centre, a flamboyantly gay Austrian fashionista with a penchant for making Westerners cringe. His quest is to become internationally fabulous and famous after being ousted from his job on Austrian TV. Besides Baron Cohen, the film contains only a handful of additional scripted characters and fills the rest with supposedly real people. The film’s biggest flaw is the opening twenty minutes, which presents all of this information. It’s contrived and very unfunny, most of the humor extending out of rectum-based jokes. These recur through the film in different guises but are still not funny. It’s disappointing, especially since Baron Cohen has in the past proved himself worthy of being called a master-satirist.
Happily, Brüno improves vastly as it progresses. The wonderfully candid reactions elicited by unsuspecting culture-shocked Americans (and especially many of the locals when the film has a brief stint in Lebanon and Israel) are the real meat here. That said, they’d be impossible without Baron Cohen’s shock flavour comedy, which leaves no stone unturned. It’s an interesting contradiction, to see such tactlessness, orchestrated and executed so tactfully. If it hadn’t been, this film wouldn’t work, and be really as offensive as every conservative lobbyist out there would have you believe. In actual fact, Brüno is really quite inoffensive and which should be obvious to anyone who recognises the real intent. Its attack is malicious only on people who harbour the homophobia Bruno exposes.
You will love it if: You’ve always wanted to know the answer to the question: “How do you defend yourself from a man with two dildos?”
You will hate it if: Mexican immigrants used as furniture strikes you as immoral.
Bruno is in cinemas everywhere now.