Directed by: Larry Charles
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen
Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Release Date: July 10, 2009
Plot: Austrian gay TV host Bruno (Baron Cohen) travels across the world in hopes of achieving international celebrity.
Who’s It For? If you haven’t seen Baron Cohen’s earlier Borat, it wouldn’t be wise to start here. But if “jagshemash” used to be a part of your vocabulary, you’ve probably already bought tickets. Tickets you should be very excited about.
Expectations: With Borat being the funniest movie of 2006, I had high hopes that this next movie from Baron Cohen would be another uproarious exercise in exorcising the idiotic demons inside the people of the world, but all done with a rather clever tastelessness.
Sacha Baron Cohen as Bruno: Regardless of what one thinks of his humor, it would be oafish to overlook the incredible talent that Baron Cohen is. He is an actor not very unlike Marlon Brando or Daniel Day Lewis in that he throws every bone of his body into the character from the very beginning of the project up until the last shot gag. With that dedication to completely embodying the character of Bruno comes an undeniable commitment to his art, which he takes to his bravest extreme in this film. Earlier predicaments that he placed Borat in, like mocking “The Star Spangled Banner” in front of a large audience at a rodeo, are easily surpassed by moments that are sprung from insane and certainly very dangerous ideas (one word: terrorists). Without exaggeration, this is comedy’s new equivalent to watching silent movie master Buster Keaton stand under a house as it collapses. It is the most fearless comedy available to mainstream audiences, and absolutely the most devoted.
The Rest of the World: Not looking too good. A fair amount of those who encounter Bruno don’t even have the defense of claiming to be victims of manipulative editing. Their intelligence (or lack of it) is put on display by their ignorant viewpoints or just plain dumb statements, which could be contained by better respect for those different than them. Of course the questions and predicaments that Bruno poses to his civilian on-screen partners are certainly disagreeable, but he never guides them on exactly what to say or how to react. Baron Cohen may be pushing every button a person has got, but he is simply testing them. And in turn, many of them fail.
Talking: Bruno doesn’t spit out as many catch-phrases as Borat, so when this 90 minute trip to his funhouse ends, his “victims” might actually be more quotable. It’s possible that Bruno’s judgment system of “In auder Aus” might infiltrate pop culture vernacular, but it is unlikely anything he says will duplicate the absurd amount of times your co-workers said “Very nice!” or “My name-a Borat. I like you, I like sex!”
Sights: The good ol’ days where Bruce Willis’ penis’ cameo in Color of Night could cause fire and brimstone at the MPAA have been ultimately surpassed by Baron Cohen, who has now brought the nudity bar even lower with a couple of segments that are essentially pornographic. The naked Polaroids and wrestling scene from Borat are blown out of the water, blown up again (and then some) by two different scenes that involve Bruno’s new TV show and swingers. It’s another triumph for Hollywood in the battle of Movies v. MPAA, and certainly another important starring role for the famous and seemingly omnipotent black bar.
Sounds: Fans of “Da Ali G Show” will recognize the pulsating dance music that is Bruno’s theme. And similar to how Borat tried to teach us the national anthem of Kazakhstan, Bruno gives us another star-studded song to sing across the planet much like “We Are The World.” The tune isn’t entirely memorable, but we’ll all know the words within a week after it starts to burn up Youtube.
Best Scene: Andy Kauffman once made a mockery of professional wrestling by body slamming women in the ring. Baron Cohen does something similar, but of course with his own twist.
Ending: Bruno’s journey to stardom concludes with a bunch of cameos in his music video.
Questions: There’s a (hilarious) segment that has Bruno pranking the set of “Medium,” a show on NBC. But considering the alliance that NBC and Bruno distributor Universal have, how set up was this gag exactly? And while we’re at it, let’s throw around the age old question that beckons to be asked with something as remarkable as this film: “HOW do they write this stuff?!”
Rewatchability: One more round in theatres should hold me off until everyone in the world buys it on DVD. For those who loved this movie and/or Borat, I can’t recommend watching “Da Ali G Show” enough.
The idiots of the world get their comeuppance once again with the help of an even bigger idiot. Bruno is another spectacularly funny film from Sacha Baron Cohen and Larry Charles that goes farther and at times funnier than 2006’s monumental Borat. It is a second opportunity for the ignorant folk of this planet to embarrass themselves – sometimes even without the help of Bruno’s probing questions. And while we’re making comparisons, Bruno may not have the Oscar-nominated storytelling of Borat, (yes, that happened), but the plot is flimsy enough to segway to the next laughing gas of a scene without leaving us with scratching heads.
Dare I say that of the two, Borat is wittier than Bruno (but for the record, Ali G is actually the smartest). Borat is able to expose numerous insensitivities of Americans, while the existence and potential of Bruno is a bit more straightforward. However, Bruno is all about Baron Cohen’s cojones, with much of his extremely funny scenarios beginning with our blurting of “Oh my god!” and ending with attempts to end our laughing sometime. Much of the laughs come from absolute shock, but let me guarantee you – they are long and hard, even if they’re coming from a man who only has the option to pound on one note as hard as he can.
Final Score: 9/10