Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bruno (2009) Review

Vassup with this movie?

Oh, Sacha Baron Cohen, how quickly you have grown. First you get your own TV show “Da Ali G Show”, which eventually gained a cult following over the next few years. Then you follow that up with the Ali G standalone movie Ali G Indahouse, which doesn’t get much critical or commercial attention. After scoring a few supporting roles in comedies such as Talladega Nights, you decide to follow them up with Borat, which focuses on your “Ali G Show” character Borat (naturally). And now we have Bruno, which concludes your trilogy of movies for each “Ali G Show” character. Although many fans consider Bruno the weakest character of the three (I admittedly have not seen an episode of the show), I kept an open mind as someone who didn’t know the character that well. Of course, Borat also happens to be one of my favorite new comedies out there, so the expectations for Bruno spiked quite a bit. Do they live up to them?

Plot Synopsis: Bruno is a high-ranking designer in the Austrian fashion industry. During one show, he decides to unveil his new design for a jumpsuit made entirely out of Velcro. As you may have expected, the show becomes a disaster as Bruno attempts to pull himself free from the sticking articles, only to cause more destruction. This event causes Bruno to get fired from his job, at which point he decides to become famous in California (more specifically Hollywood). His various attempts at landing a job, such an actor and a controversial celebrity, fail, but he continues to try with the help of his assistant Lutz.

If you can believe it, Bruno has even less of a plot than Borat did. Whereas Borat had the goal of finding Pamela Anderson and marrying her, Bruno just continues to try to be famous. But who cares about plot in a movie like this, right? I know it only lasts a breezy 80 minutes so it doesn’t overstay its welcome, but how funny is it really? Well, rather hit and miss to be honest. For every two laugh out loud gags or setups, there is at least one other that lands with a thud. Some of the better moments include an attempt at a sex tape, a campout with some homophobic men (Did I mention Bruno is very very gay?), adopting an African son, and a swingers party. But the scene where Bruno gets children’s parents to sign them up for a photo shoot falls flat, as does his trip to the Middle East (he calls it Middle Earth) for a peace negotiation in the area. I won’t reveal any more of the gags, as you may find more of it funnier than I did. Another problem, mostly with the jokes that don’t work, is that many of them feel staged (like the photo shoot). This takes out some of the humor because it doesn’t feel as real as the rest of the stuff. Sure Borat had its share of fake feeling scenes, but nowhere near the level that it is at here.


Cohen, of course, is excellent in the role. Just as he did with Borat, he completely disappears into Bruno’s persona and never breaks character. Also like Borat, Bruno doesn’t always realize what kind of a buffoon most people see him as and he goes by his own rules. The difference is that rather than use the issue of race as his prodding point like last time, Cohen now uses Bruno’s homosexuality to pry at peoples’ opinions. But this prying isn’t just used to get a laugh out of audiences. Cohen is trying to make a commentary and point about the views of homosexuality in the eyes of America’s various inhabitants, whether it be celebrities, producers, or just plain locals. This is the main saving point for the movie, as Cohen’s hand in satire stays strong throughout, even when the laughs aren’t as frequent. But let me tell you that if you are easily offended or homophobic, then proceed with caution. Then again, I guess Cohen is also trying to bring those qualities out of us so we can see them for ourselves. He is a sly devil that guy.

I’m sure that “Ali G Show” and Borat fans will get a kick out of Bruno, but don’t expect it to be as smooth as its source material.


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