Yeah. Anyone thinking Brüno was going to be another innocent, simplistic and moronic adventure through the American heartland like Borat was, is in for a rude awakening. Sure, Sacha Baron Cohen pokes major fun at the idiosyncrasies of “regular” Americans but he does it with a much more perverse and provocative attitude than ever before. Those easily offended need not apply.
The setup this time around is Sacha Baron Cohen takes on the persona of Brüno, a maddeningly flamboyant gay Austrian fashion reporter, who, upon getting fired from the European TV show Funkyzeit (due to a costume failure at a runway show), sets out to America to stake his claim as a celebrity. In tow is Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten), his loyal man servant. In his path are plenty of unsuspecting people that have no idea what they’re in for.
What Brüno finds during his quest for fame is it is harder to achieve than it seems — perplexing since the American culture now hungers for pathetic celebrity role models. His television show pilot with Mexicans standing in as furniture and dancing dicks isn’t met with much enthusiasm even though he manages to get Paula Abdul and La Toya Jackson on as guests (the La Toya scene has since been removed due to the untimely death of her brother, Michael). His appearance on a talk show with an adopted African baby doesn’t go over particularly well either — especially after the all black audience finds out the child was gotten via a trade for an iPod and sees pictures of the kid crucified like Jesus.
His quest for all things gay and not so gay don’t go so well either. In one scene in Brüno, he finds himself getting “cured” of his homosexuality by two Alabaman ministers. In another, he spends an uncomfortable evening with some good ‘ole Southern boys around a campfire (it’s the good ‘ole boys who are uncomfortable, by the way). In yet another, he whips up some wrestling spectators into an anti-gay fervor (reminded me of his similar stunt in getting Arizona bar patrons to sing along to his “Throw the Jew Down the Well” song).
Ultimately, all his quests lead for some big time laughs either at his extravagance or at the idiocy of those he’s exposing. It never ceases to amaze me that people fall into the trap set by the guerrilla tactics employed. Especially when that someone is someone like Ron Paul, the presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party. Paul finds himself in a peculiar situation staged by Brüno and upon figuring it out loses sight of the joke played on him. Needless to say, he’ll have some apologies to make in the near future.
In all honesty, I’m not sure which I applaud more: The brazenness Sacha Baron Cohen exhibits while going for the laugh (in many scenarios, he undoubtedly puts himself in danger) or the fact that he manages to show just how shallow our culture has become without pointing a finger at us telling us just how shallow our culture has become.
Simply put, the character Brüno is to film like Howard Stern was to radio. Love him or hate him, you’re transfixed to see (or hear in Howard’s case) what outrageous thing he’ll do next. And for the entire 83 minute running time of Brüno, the outrageousness goes off the charts. And for the entire 83 minute running time, I can’t recount a single moment in which I wasn’t thoroughly entertained. The only way the movie could have been better was if the working title of “Brüno: Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt” was used.