Since I’m usually ready to give any movie a go (unless the name Uwe Boll is attached to direct), I figured I’d check out a film I wouldn’t normally be attracted to, and see how it holds up. I have to admit up front that I’ve never been a big fan of Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy; I’ve never intentionally watched Da Ali G Show, nor did I get caught up in the cultural phenomenon that was Borat.
However, I have to say that Cohen’s newest flick, Bruno, is one hell of a funny film.
As he did in the aforementioned Borat, Cohen takes a fish out of water–in this case, fictional Austrian supermodel Bruno–and plops him in the middle of the U.S., where he tries to rise from his shame of blacklisting in the fashion industry back home, to become famous by any means necessary. One of the things going against Bruno is that he’s gay, and must find a way to fit in with “normal” society in order to achieve his much sought-after fame. The movie is not just a fairly clever take on how much one must compromise themselves to fit in with the standards of others, but also an exposÃ© of the insipid prejudices lurking within all people, from every walk of life. Trust me: if you’re a prim and proper, old-time stodgy bear, this is definitely not the movie for you.
As for the rest of us…it’s time to sit back and have fun!
From its opening scenes, the movie is raunchy to say the least…starting with Bruno’s (Cohen) initial over-the-top sex scenes with his pygmy lover Diesel (Clifford Banagale) all the way to a later scene where Bruno’s man jammy talks to the camera. It’s hard to say whether this film will advance or set back the cause of gay rights for the next decade, as some scenes are so far removed from normalcy that some people will come away laughing, while others of lesser intellect will believe that gay men do shoot themselves across the room in slingshot-propelled chairs to blast their partners in the back door.
While earning its R-rated laughs consistently, the film manages to turn the stupidity of others back on themselves, whether through an honest interview with a blonde supermodel too stupid to realize how dumb she is by admitting that walking is hard work, or the gun-toting rednecks who take Bruno hunting and tolerate him only to a point before violently turning on the cameraman. Some critics have stated that Cohen (Talladega Nights, Sweeney Todd) takes great risks for his comedy, and to some degree, that’s true (for example, hanging around the gun-toting rednecks or daring to tell an Army officer he’d make a great general in the Bitch Army). But honestly, can we really believe that “Bruno” managed to snag an interview with a terrorist leader in the Middle East, that said leader allowed himself to be filmed on camera, or that he didn’t instantly order Bruno shot when the highly effeminate male criticizes Osama Bin Laden’s appearance, likening him to a homeless Santa Claus?
It’s hard to believe that a great many people–outside of Alabama, a prime target for Cohen’s naughtiness–could so easily fall for the documentary schtick, when some of what goes on doesn’t readily lend itself to a one-or-two-man operation. However, props must be given to Cohen for remaining fully in character when a highly aggressive dominatrix begins whipping him for annoying the other players at a swingers’ party.
There are some slower moments in Bruno, and some jokes that don’t fully hit the mark. For the most part, however, Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest creation is one that will have audiences lining up to laugh for some time to come.