Movie Review
Bruno poster
By Craig Younkin     Published July 7, 2009
US Release: July 10, 2009

Directed by: Larry Charles
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen

R for pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language.
Running Time: 81 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $59,992,760
Bruno makes fun of intolerance and good-old-fashioned American stupidity and even though it fails at certain points, it’s still more ambitious than almost anything else out there now.
Sacha Baron Cohen redefined the phrase “fearless performance” when he brought “Borat” to America. What followed were some of the funniest and most memorable moments I can recall in any comedy I’ve ever seen, and what “Borat’s” innocence brought out of America was shocking. To ask any comedy to raise the bar higher is to be asking for way too much, although I will say that while “Bruno” is not “Borat," it again shows Cohen as a performance artist and not to mention a damn funny dude.

Bruno is the last of his characters from “Da Ali G Show," a gay fashionista from Austria on the front lines of every fashion show, commiserating with vacuous models who find walking hard and picking what’s in and what’s out (what do you know, autism is in). When not covering the runway, he’s involved in a freaky relationship with his short Asian assistant. When a flub involving his Velcro ensemble knocks him off Austrian TV, the A-List, and his boyfriend leaves him, he decides to move his A-List-Celebrity-Show to Los Angeles in the hopes of becoming a big star in America. Along for the ride is his assistant Lutz (Gustaf Hammarstein). Pasty-white, style-less, and with glasses, Lutz has affections for Bruno but Bruno is too into the A-List crowd to bother with Lutz’s average guy build. And so “Bruno” takes on the style of “Borat," going from one skit to another where he does the most outrageous things in order to freak people out.

A wildly creative anal sex scene involving a sling-shot, a dildo, and a human spinning on the end of a penis among other things sets the tone. This isn’t just going to be outrageous, it’s going to be piss your pants hilarious. Anal bleaching, swingers-parties, and yes even a talking penis ensues, as does more creativity. Watching him use a psychic to bring back the spirit of Milli of Milli Vanilli and then see him do what he does to the spirit had me on the floor. And wait until you see what he uses as furniture to do his interviews (with the likes of Paula Abdul), or how he rolls out the buffet after the interview is over.

And among all the hilarity is some satire, mostly about the lengths people will go for fame, and America’s gay phobia (the later is a little iffy but I’ll get to that in a second). Bruno is so anxious to become famous that he follows in the footsteps of Bono and George Clooney and tries to bring about world peace between Palestine and Israel (haphazardly confusing hummus with Hammas) and in the footsteps of Angelina and Madonna, getting his own African baby he swapped for an I-Pod. Aside from his own vanity, he also interviews eager stage-parents so willing to get their kid famous that they’ll give shocking answers to questions like “what if your baby had to lose 10 pounds?”

On the other side of this is poking fun at America’s gay phobia. Cohen, and his three other writers, have trouble early on in balancing the humor with the message. When Bruno shows off his African baby on “The Richard Bey Show," it just comes off as more detrimental to gay parenting than it does in showing the audiences outrage at a gay parent. Another involving Ron Paul goes way too far and borders on sexual entrapment. They even-it-out in the last third with some good material, involving interrupting a “God Hates Fags” protest, meeting with the in-denial gay-conversion experts (one guy really and hilariously thinks women are irritating, but you gotta live with them), hunting with some good ole-boys, and joining the military. And there is a really good scene that ends romantically in a cage-fighting ring of all places.

Cohen enters all of these situations without fear. That he again comes out of them without being severely beaten or even lynched is astonishing. “Bruno," directed by “Borat” director Larry Charles, again makes fun of intolerance and good-old-fashioned American stupidity and even though it fails at certain points, it’s still more ambitious than almost anything else out there now. “Bruno” is absolutely fabulous.
Craig's Grade: B+
Craig's Overall Grading: 340 graded movies
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'Bruno' Articles
  • 'Bruno' Is On His Way
    April 4, 2008    Word has hit the net about Bruno, Cohen's follow-up to Borat where he is now taking on the role of his other alter-ego personality – the openly gay fashion expert who will come to America and have a similar journey as Borat. -- Lee Tistaert