The Heap Reviews “Bruno”

Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest character to make the jump from the famed “Da Ali G Show” to the silver screen is Bruno, a flamboyant homosexual fashion reporter. Cohen’s film Bruno makes it a point to incessantly and shamelessly flaunt the main character’s sexual orientation while trying to create some semblance of a plot.

The previews for the film almost assured a laugh-fest, much like Cohen’s runaway “mockumentary” hit Borat was in 2006. Though admittedly, I must have wondered more than a few times how funny can a movie about a gay fashonista prancing around in revealing clothing be funny. Or perhaps more appropriately, how long could it be funny?

The audience is introduced to Bruno, a successful Austrian fashion reporter as the movie begins. A montage of his ironic, self-imposed social status ensues, as we see situations in which he is able to gain access to the best shows, seats and exclusives with celebrities. Public life was good for Bruno.

And then the “fun” begins. Within the first 15 minutes of the film, Cohen makes it very clear that Bruno will have no problem crossing the lines of public humiliation, interaction, and exploitation that Borat did a few years ago. In fact, in those first 15 minutes, Bruno easily exceeds the level of gross, bodily humor that made Borat so funny. Unfortunately, it was too graphic and shocking, taking away from a semi-decent premise.

Like its predecessor, Bruno aims to expose American (and even global) portrayal of the homosexual. The audience experiences painfully awkward scenes where the only viable reaction is to laugh or just shout in amazement of what has just occurred. In an ironic twist, when Bruno tries to pitch a celebrity interview show in Hollywood, the board of reviewers asks, “What kind of sick person came up with something like this?” You’ll ask yourself this question numerous times.

Bruno succeeds in addressing the conservative beliefs still held by many Americans today despite the extreme methods in which Cohen chooses to expose these behaviors- assuming that these parts are not scripted. It also examines and exposes social “machismo,” by having Bruno try vigorously to shake his homosexuality by being surrounded by overly straight men. It is much more evident which parts are scripted and which are not in Bruno. There is simply no way Cohen could get away with the stunts he pulled in Bruno without prior scripting and warning. It’s much harder to discern these moments in Borat, as it was much more believable- at least to me anyway.

The primary concern of the film, however, despite strong homosexual overtones, is the caricature of the American celebrity. The audience is given the impression that becoming a celebrity in the US is kind of easy, since Bruno attempts this immediately without a second thought. He seems to be toying with what has become a reality in our society- ANYONE can have a reality TV show or blog and achieve celebrity status by simply being extreme, having some sort of a gimmick, or just mimicking the actions of current celebrities. (Swipes at Perez Hilton anyone?) The adoption of a child from Africa was particularly genius.

Overall, the movie doesn’t meet expectations. It was more astoundingly shocking that funny. You were almost forced to laugh, just because there wasn’t any other appropriate reactions to what was going on in the movie. The plot is there, but it is mostly just short bits loosely tied together by an attempted storyline. The extreme and graphic depictions of homosexual acts and male genitalia detract from an other wise smart, biting satire of the American celebrity and sexual conservatism. It’s enjoyable, but only a one time view, and it is hard to justify spending 9 or so dollars to go see it.

The Heap gives it 6/10 Bags

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