Those familiar with the work of Sacha Baron Cohen are also familiar with his three alter-ego stereotypes; Ali G (black-rapper wannabe moron), Borat Sagdiyev (ignorant racist foreigner) and in this highlighted instance, Bruno (flamboyant perverted homosexual). Now all of them off the bat come off as horrible characters bent on shocking and offending... and I wouldn’t have it any other way! While Ali G Indahouse was a conventional comedy flick, Borat’s big screen outing on the other hand was a unique laugh a second mockumentary that surprised even the most high brow of critics, so naturally a Bruno incarnation would be an equal affair of offensive comedy material in real life situations?Well, there’s good news and bad news in the case of Bruno.
The GOOD news is all the in your face comedy and taboo shock value from Borat is retained, only in a different style of character. After a brief (and camp) opening sequence, the flamboyant Austrian fashion (I want to say) critic flaunts his overly out of this world fashion show and his life with his, as he puts “pigmy” lover, a long with a anal sex scene best described as the ZZ Top spinning guitar trick. After crashing a cat walk, his show is cancelled, pigmy gone rogue with Bruno going off to make it big in America. Already you’ll notice the same plot line as Borat but this time his follower is a rather timid assistant Lutz. Despite the similar set up to Borat, its the only, if not the best way to get the unsuspecting public and celebrities pranked in a variety of situations.
And boy there are a good few. If you weren’t put off by the unconventional anal sex in the introduction then what about a real penis flailing around to the beat of techno before light CGI makes the top shout? And I saw this on a cinema sized screen... you could actually feel the mental reactions of the surrounding audience, but of course no one could look away (even the jock guys at the back) because its almost a surreal moment considering this has got to be a first for mainstream cinema, and this is just one scene. Clearly the intention of the film (besides comedy of course) was to take those with any hang ups over homosexuality and hammer the subject matter into their eye-sockets. Without ruining anything to those who have yet to see it, lets just say the ending achieves this in an excellent (if boarder-line suicidal) gay statement leaving a previously overly aggressive testosterone induced southern American in tears.
Other great examples of vintage Sacha’s real life humor include an inappropriate pass at Ron Paul (funny even if you don’t know who that is), a “bitch-fest” with a drill instructor, adopting and parading a African baby in front of a full African-American audience and causing silence and tension with a trio of hunters.
The BAD news is, the majority of the sketches are randomly placed. While Borat went across America under the guise of reporting US topics. In Bruno however, he jumps from point A to B so fast its hard to tell at times where he is and thus who he’s making fun of, which somewhat hinders the illusion of its being a documentary. Secondly the jokes are too far apart, most delivering punch line humor with a large build up while Borat injected humor into even the most mundane of sentences. And of course there’s the simple truth of the subject matter... Now of course many will say they have no problem or nothing against homosexuals but when push comes to shove many of the “in your face” jokes will cause a cringe more than a laugh for some people, the problem being its just hard to tell who they will be. Arguable the humor is so gay it could turn a gay man into a homophobe at times but then of course you remember its just a joke on stereotypes (so forget about it).
Bruno is a solid effort and worthy follow up to Borat, but in all honesty Bruno is far from the superior film. Borat was more original for its time while Bruno has many recycled elements. But of course I don’t want to put down the film, it achieved what is was out to do, causes laughs in inappropriate situations and sticking a giant middle finger up to the nay sayers. Its offensive and cringe worthy but then again thats the whole bloody point and the reason you came to see it in the first place!