- Released Internationally on 08/07/09
- Released in Malta by KRS on 18/07/09
In a nutshell
When comedian Sasha Baron Cohen invaded both sides of the Atlantic with his daring and brilliant Da Ali G Show, his titular character was flanked by two other creations who made brief appearances throughout the show. The first, Borat, got his own hugely successful feature film in 2006. Now it's Brüno's turn.
Ich bin Brüno!
Brüno is a flamboyantly gay Austrian TV presenter who hosts a show about fashion until his antics make him lose favour in the style world. Hungry for celebrity status, he heads to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming "the biggest Austrian celebrity since Hitler." He tries everything, from interviewing celebrities to outrageous appearances on talk shows, but ultimately he realises that he must convert to heterosexuality if he is to have his shot at stardom.
If you're new to the unconventional genius of Sasha Baron Cohen, what's on your screen might take some explaining. From his original TV show onwards he has always transformed himself into his three characters and then infiltrated everyday situations and interviews, with hilarious results captured on camera. In Borat, his Kazakhstani alter-ego fumbled around America and was met with ridicule, amusement and anger. But in doing so he exposed impressive, genuine displays of ignorance, snobbery, racism and fanaticism. This time around the main targets are of course the homophobes, especially the bible-wielding fundamentalist pastors of the US who set out to ‘convert’ gays. They prove to be easy prey.
Is it real?
Cohen has always defended his work as completely authentic, which he often has to do considering how perfectly staged it all may seem. The proof that Borat wasn't staged and scripted was the alleged onslaught of lawsuits which the production company had to face after its release, from the various individuals exposed in the film. In short, these people thought they were passing their close-minded remarks in front of an unknown journalist from some frozen corner of the ex-Soviet Union, but they ended up on the big screen across the world. This time around his claims are similar, however Bruno contains much more story backbone to tie the 'real' scenes together, and these parts drag the film down because the comedy isn't real or exciting.
The fun of Brüno in his original TV appearances was his subtle bashing of the entire fashion industry, but this is sadly relegated to only the prologue of his adventures here. Some of the segments are as daring and fun as anything Baron Cohen’s three characters have done before - especially the attempt to film an amorous advance on US presidential candidate Ron Paul, a stripped-down interview with Paula Abdul, and 'Straight Dave's cage fights which were organised in Arkansas and drew a predictably rowdy and intolerant crowd, before giving them exactly what they didn’t want to see. The scenes involving parents desperate to get their children involved in a high-profile photo shoot are also quite shocking, and wonderfully done.
Many of the remaining scenes strain to entertain. While Borat revealed shocking intolerances amongst its involuntary protagonists, the reactions to Brüno are sometimes understandable considering the crudeness they are witnessing. Sure, it's amusing to watch, but it stops at that. The final scenes try to add some sort of closure by dragging in top musicians for a grand finale, but it ends on a flat note and adds nothing to what has come before.
In ze end
Borat was daring, fresh and incredibly funny to watch. Brüno has its moments, but they're unfortunately few and far between. The character himself is just as fun and well-developed, but in the search for something bolder and funnier than his predecessor, he's just too much.
http://www.apple.com/trailers/universal/bruno/ (High-res QuickTime)