Sacha Baron Cohen returns to the big screen portraying the title character, an ultrahomosexual Austrian fashion reporter, who fans will know from his two television series, both named Da Ali G Show. His material works best when it surprises the audience, which is why it was so disappointing and rather ignorant when so many entertainment outlets constantly revealed “news” about where the crew was working during production. With so much spoiled already, this review will do its best to give as few specifics as possible.
The basic premise of the film is Brüno comes to America to become world famous, a goal of many who have come to this country, so he attempts to follow in the footsteps of some celebrities who have made the big time. That façade allows for a number of ridiculous situations, several of which it’s hard to believe didn’t end in serious injury applied by those who appear in these extremely candid camera moments.
Brüno finds Cohen continuing to dabble in what I dubbed in my Borat review as Jackass Comedy. He is fearless as a performer. His stunts and interaction with the unsuspecting simultaneously appear ingenious and idiotic, creating tension as the audience waits to see what happens next. While his peers will likely never recognize him, it’s amazing to watch an actor commit to a character so completely and never break, including when it appears he is getting seriously smacked around.
However in comparison to Borat, Brüno has less social commentary and many times is outrageous just to be outrageous. I found the film funny over the course of its brief 83-minute run time, though I didn't laugh as often or as intensely, and there were occasions I wondered what the gag was exactly. People are absolutely entitled to be uncomfortable with homosexuality or male frontal nudity, especially when it is unexpected and forced upon them. After all, it is perfectly reasonable for a woman to not want to be hit on by a man, so what exactly is to be laughed at when a straight man has the same reaction to another man? Especially when the issue is pressed and responses of “no” and “stop” are ignored.
Anyone uncomfortable or uncertain about anything mentioned above should definitely pass on this film. Anyone curious, or even bi-curious, will have their tolerance tested quickly and often. In one of the early scenes, a session between Brüno and his midget Filipino boyfriend Diesel will serve as a litmus test.
With all that takes place in Brüno, I am surprised it is rated R. The MPAA awarded it an NC-17 when it was first submitted, and I am unclear how this version didn’t receive one as well. However, the most shocking moments, which barely rate a PG, occur when Brüno interviews stage parents about their children. It’s by far the most offensive sequence in the film.