“Plain genius,” raves Tom Long of the Detroit News. “You’ll die laughing,” warns Marshall Fine of Star Magazine. “Hysterical!” exclaims Rick Warner of Bloomberg News. The cover of the Brüno DVD case is filled with such hyperbole. I didn’t find it to be any of that, exactly. It’s not that I don’t find Sacha Baron Cohen to be funny. Or clever. It’s just that this movie of his, a follow-up to his very successful Borat, was, in a word, unfunny.

Brüno is a gay male model (is that redundant?) from Austria who decides to come to America to become famous. He tries various things to accomplish this, ranging from an attempt to produce a sex tape with a famous politician (Ron Paul) to adopting an African-American baby, alá Madonna. Along the way, the fictional plot is mixed with real footage of Cohen’s Brüno engaged in various situations with real people. It’s a kind of Candid Camera thing, and the results are sometimes humorous, but more often they are not. Brüno relies very heavily on sexually-graphic sight gags that I think I might have found hilarious back when I was in seventh grade. One concludes Cohen is counting on the shock value, but shock merely for the sake of shock does not humor make. The gags fall flat, and an 82-minute movie feels a lot longer.

Part of the problem is that the scenes with real people (interviews with parents, for example, willing to do anything to get their babies into the movies, the participants of a swingers party in Alabama, or a couple of Baptist ministers committed to converting gay people to a straight lifestyle) are actually somewhat disturbing, if not staged (which one can’t help but suspect). Cohen is actually at his best when exposing these kinds of people and holding them up to well-deserved ridicule. But can one really call this comedy? I found myself cringing and shaking my head more than laughing out loud, making me wonder if these were the “hysterical” parts that were supposed to make me “die laughing.”

All in all, the juvenile sight gags and the spectacle of revealed idiocy do not make for a movie that lives up to its own advertised hype.


I agree completely, Borat seemed to have some authenticity that Bruno seems to lack.

I agree Rainey.This movie was quite disasterous. I came out of the cinema thinking what a waste of how ever long it lasted. I thought going to see Batman in italian (a brilliant movie) was a horrible expierence as i dont speak italian and every time i came close to sleep Bruce decided to take a spin in the “bath mobile” or some one let the bats loose. :-&

You gave a very generous four. :laughing:

I thought the movie was fucking great.

Not as good as Borat. Not as good as Da Ali G Show. Substantially better than Da Ali G Movie.

Basically, his own success has been his undoing. In Da Ali G Show, it was initially easy to make fun of people who were serious, because nobody knew who the fuck he was. But he was filming them, so they may as well preen. Eventually the British figured this out, so he started making fun of Americans, because nobody in America (at least nobody he’d be poking fun at) knew who he was! An easy switch.

Then he decided to do a scripted movie and, ehhh, I mean, I’ve seen worse from former SNL members but that is the level of quality we are talking about.

So he went back to what he does best and really rocked it with Borat.

But in a post-Borat world, how does Sasha work? People are not only looking out for imitators, but now have also researched his characters (or had TMZ or some other pop-news program do it for them, youtube?) so they already know the score. How can his got’cha humor work? The answer is by pandering to people so desperate that they don’t care they are being made fun of. These people no longer think they are spreading their “message” to nobodies on public access. They know that they will be made into a laughingstock in front of hundreds of millions. They are counting on a small number of those thinking, “Hey, I like these insane ideas and would like to subscribe to their crazy-person newsletter.”

And that is Bruno. A mix of scripted scenes – where Sasha is at his weakest as a comedian (get a writer, dude. If there was any doubt before, in a post writer’s strike world, it is very difficult to argue that Colbert is a funnier comedian than Stewart. But the Colbert Report is routinely funnier than the Daily Show because of the strength of the writers and the absurdity of the character) and scenes with really desperate fucks.

I’m not above laughing at crazy, desperate fucks. So the movie was nice.

Also, Sasha can actually speak German, or so it would seem. Heavily accented, yes. With Grammatical errors, oh boy. But German. Not in a “Babelfish” sort of way but in a “this isn’t my native language, give me a fucking break” kind of way.