Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno is a hilarious attempt to shock the masses with the wild antics of an outlandishly gay Austrian. Using a similar mocumentary style to that of his 2006 smash hit Bruno, Cohen poses in disguise to reveal the not so hidden prejudices many have against gay and/or European. The plot centers on titular character Bruno, an recently fired Austrian fashion TV presenter, trying to make it big in Hollywood. Bruno travels around the US and as far as the Middle East to find the secret of success in America.
Bruno is a hysterically funny film for those who are not easily offended by graphic nudity, homosexuality, foul language, child endangerment and ethnic stereotypes. The comedy works well in every sketch. The best moments are those that prey on the all to common quest for fame in America, the desperate wannabes who will do anything to get ahead. Most memorably are the parents who agree to let their babies and toddlers pose under any circumstances ranging from a controversial crucifixion setting to downright dangerous stunts with bees and machinery. The sheer audacity of somebody willing to risk anything for a chance to have their kids in pictures is ripe grounds for this type of satire. Other sketches involve gay conversion therapy, swingers parties, peace talks, focus groups, celebrity interviews and wrestling matches.
While the movie is funny, it doesn’t quite all work as a whole the way that Borat did. The basic premise of Borat was that he was sent with a camera crew to research American culture, so the setup for each segment was always there. In Bruno the plot has him being fire at the beginning, yet still somehow being filmed throughout his travels. It doesn’t make sense when he breaks through the fourth wall because there shouldn’t be anybody filming him. The affect is that it comes off more like The Office and less like an actual documentary, which takes away the realism of the situations. There also were a few segments that felt as if the people in them knew this was being done for comedy and weren’t acting naturally. Maybe that isn’t the case, it is possible that everybody was unsuspecting rube but it just didn’t always feel that way. The other problem I had with this movie is that from scene to scene everything felt disconnected. His departure to the Middle East offered some big laughs, but getting there on the flimsy premise that being kidnapped by terrorists would make him famous didn’t really work.
Even though there were some problems the film is definitely a fun time at the movies. It is a great movie to go to with friends and watch from between your fingers and you cringe and the increasingly wacky and humiliating stunts Cohen puts himself through. The genuine shock on people’s faces when he pulls a baby off a luggage carousel and outrage at his controversial photos with the child are priceless. Funny, appalling, envelope pushing there has never been a comedy quite like this before.