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  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy of Cathay-Keris Films)

Genre: Comedy
Director: Dan Mazer
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Alice Evans, Trishelle Cannatella, Sandra Seeling, Ben Youcef
RunTime: 1 hr 20 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: R21 (Coarse Sexual Content)
Official Website: http://www.thebrunomovie.com

Opening Day: 20 August 2009


Sacha Baron Cohen's gay Austrian supermodel Bruno comes to the big screen with similar hijinks and celebrity interviews as seen on "Da Ali G Show."

Movie Review:

It’s not hard to tell if you’re going to like Bruno, the latest incarnation by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. Probably the most politically incorrect entertainer around, Cohen is not a man of subtlety. No. Not even a hint. So if you like your jokes crude, crass, vulgar, racist, demeaning and disgusting, you’re going to find much to like, even love, about Bruno. If you don’t, stay far, far away.

Cohen’s latest character creation is the gay Austrian supermodel Bruno, banished from his native country when he wears a Velcro suit to Fashion Week and literally brings down the entire show with his ultra sticky wear. Disgraced, he leaves for Los Angeles to become a celebrity with his assistant’s assistant Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten), a loyal and dedicated fan who happens to have the hots for Bruno.

Bruno’s visit to America is really Cohen’s excuse of playing every conceivable prank on the American people- just as he did with Borat’s “cultural visit” to the Land of the Free. And so Cohen does, with celebrities, politicians and just about anyone who doesn’t recognize who he is (which must be considerably harder after the runaway success of Borat).

There’s one with Paula Abdul, where Bruno invites the now former American Idol judge for an interview at his new house, and in the absence of chairs and other furniture, asks Abdul to sit on Mexicans crouched on the floor on all fours. There’s another with Ron Paul- a Republican who has made quite a few open statements against homosexuality- lured into a hotel room where Bruno starts to undress and make advances on him. And there’s also a very-funny gag on “The Richard Bey Show”, where an all-black audience is outraged by Bruno’s adoption of a little black boy apparently from Africa.

It’s hard to imagine every one of those situations as genuine, but Cohen’s mockumentary style so effectively blurs the line between fact and fiction you won’t be able to tell which are staged and which are not (just think of the stunt he “pulled” on Eminem during the MTV Awards). Indeed, it is no small feat to set up the gags in Bruno-particularly since many of them rely on Cohen to get the audience’s reaction right in just one take.

And it is to Cohen’s credit as a comedian that he manages to pull off his self-conceived pranks so competently. To call him a master of disguise would probably be most appropriate, since he disappears into his characters so completely it’s hard to decipher just what the star behind those characters really is like. Perhaps the highest compliment one can pay to Cohen is that there isn’t anyone else out there who can play Bruno the way he can.

But funny, and even hilarious Bruno, may be, the movie falls short of Cohen’s earlier Borat. It’s not just that Cohen’s gross-out pranks were probably fresher the first time round; but what Bruno lacks is a greater sense of purpose over and above the insanity and inanity. Borat laid bare the stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination in American society and forced a deep, hard look at what was wrong; Bruno lampoons celebrity culture but goes little further. And by virtue, Bruno is simply content to exploit the pitfalls of vanity and narcissism without saying more.

That’s not to say Bruno isn’t great comedy. It is. Cohen’s comedic talent is quite unparalleled and Bruno is a movie that is very much uniquely Cohen. But one wishes that besides making you laugh (and squirm), Cohen could have tried to make you think a little more about what he is making fun of. Cohen did that with Borat. Sadly, Bruno could have done with a little more ingenuity to make it just as brilliant.

Movie Rating:

(Think Borat as a gay supermodel- waxed of course- and you’ll already know whether you’ll like where Bruno is headed)

Review by Gabriel Chong


. Borat (2006)

. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)


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