Brüno (2009)


Get ready… Brüno ist coming. In Sacha Baron Cohen and Larry Charles’ uber-encore to 2006’s Borat, the cast and crew embark on a fresh globe trotting, guerilla-style filmmaking adventure and set a new standard of risky provocation. Cohen delivers another daring and unrestrained performance as Bruno, Austria’s most famous, flamboyantly gay fashionista with the acerbic wit who brazenly interviews his guests about fashion and celebrity on his top-rated TV show Funkyzeit mit Bruno (Funkytime with Bruno).

When Bruno’s cutting edge Velcro outfit makes a disastrous show-stopping appearance on the catwalk during Milan’s fashion week, he’s dragged off stage by security. After being blackballed from future events, Bruno sets out to re-launch his career and crisscrosses the globe in search of fame and love, perpetrating one outrageous stunt after another on unsuspecting victims as he explores the nature of celebrity.

In Washington, DC, Bruno sets up a pseudo interview with former presidential candidate Ron Paul. After his TV crew fakes a technical glitch, Bruno strips down to his underwear and starts dancing provocatively until a visibly shocked Ron Paul storms out. In Los Angeles, Bruno invites Paula Abdul to his new home for a celebrity interview and recruits his Latino gardeners to serve as impromptu furniture. Surprisingly, Paula goes along with it; her lack of media savvy is hilarious and reveals the extent to which people will go to be a celebrity icon.

Next Bruno decides he must become straight to find fame. Citing Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kevin Spacey as his inspirations, he consults a pastor who specializes in gay conversion. In a hilarious series of vignettes, he asks a martial arts expert to show him how to protect himself against unwanted homosexual advances, infiltrates the Army National Guard headquarters in Anniston, Alabama with amusing results and goes on an overnight hunting trip with gun-toting Alabama rednecks who become increasingly agitated by his pranks.

Then there’s the terrifyingly funny Middle Eastern segment where Bruno poses as a foreign correspondent. It starts out rather innocuously with Bruno discussing the nutritional merits of Hamas vs Hummus with the former Jordanian prime minister, then escalates to him risking life and limb to interview the head of the terrorist group al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade. As a climatic finale, Bruno sashays through a conservative Hasidic neighborhood in Israel wearing only skin-tight shorts and a Little Debbie-inspired bonnet and winds up being chased through the streets by furious Orthodox Jews.

In an endless series of wildly offensive, boundary-pushing adventures designed to provoke both laughter and anger, Sacha Baron Cohen entertains us by holding up a mirror to our own ridiculous prejudices with gross, over-the-top humor that flies in the face of political correctness It’s hard to tell what’s genuine and spontaneous and what’s been scripted, but you feel for the victims of Cohen’s guerilla-style comedy as well as worry about his safety once they realize he’s in on the joke at their expense.

Cohen has impeccable comedic timing in this blistering, hoax-filled social satire about one man’s quest to become uber famous. The insane antics, vulgar jokes, machinery-assisted sex toys, and graphic sex (straight and gay) provoke reactions that are impossible not to laugh and cringe at. Brüno ist funken funny.

4 stars

Sheila Roberts

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Stars Sacha Baron Cohen
Director Larry Charles
Screenplay Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer & Jeff Schaffer
Certificate 18
Distributor Universal Pictures
Running Time 1hr 21mins
Released July 10