Thursday, 01 October 2020
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Wednesday, 15 July 2009 00:00
brunoposterIt’s not very often a movie can render the movie critic speechless. But that is almost the case for me with Sasha Baron Cohen’s new “mockumentary” Bruno. I think I still had a look of slack-jawed disbelief on my face when we left the theatre!

Cohen rose to international superstardom after releasing Borat, a daring comedy that I think was brilliant despite, and often because of, how shocking it was. It had a lot to say about North American culture, stereotypes, and in general political-correctness in today’s society. Cohen has doffed the moustache and thick carpet of body hair that identified Borat. In fact he’s plucked, shaved and waxed every part of his body except his head to become Bruno, a gay Austrian fashion maven and host of Funkytime With Bruno.

brunopic1The thin story is that Bruno desperately wants to become uber-famous in the US, so he heads to Los Angeles to bring his fashion sense and liberated attitude to the American people. Any storyline is just a means to an end however, as the real point of this film is to expose unsuspecting citizens to shocking situations while the camera is rolling to get their reactions! And these are the moments the film shines.

Sometimes he achieves a level of brilliance, such as a scene in which Bruno interviews Paula Abdul about human rights activism – while having her sit on the backs of Mexican workers paid to be the furniture. Or when he visits a team of ditzy charity publicists and exposes just how ignorant they truly are to the issues of the world. He informs them that Darfur is so passé and wonders what they think of “Dar-five”. Or when he searches for child models for a baby photo shoot and asks a mother if her 30 lb baby girl could lose 10 lbs in a week. The mother’s answer is “Sure. That’s what we’ll have to do if it gets her the job.” Seriously! How far will people go? I hope this woman had to answer to child-services! It’s pretty cutting stuff, and a lot of people end up looking really bad on camera.

brunopic2Other scenes are simply uncomfortable, hoping to get a gasp reaction from both the audience and the people on screen. In one scene Bruno attends a swingers party and the only censorship is a small strategically placed black dot to allow for an NC-17 rating. There are no qualms about showing male anatomy in other scenarios though, as Bruno certainly enjoys waggling it around on camera for his celebrity interview shows’ test pilot. This movie is definitely not for the easily offended. If you think of the most shocking scenes in Borat, multiply their shock value by 10 and make those scenes 80% of the movie’s content you will be left with Bruno.

Personally, I found Borat to be a more relevant and cutting edge movie for its time – I also found it funnier. But Bruno definitely has a lot of hilarity worked into its 120-minute time frame. How Sasha Baron Cohen can completely embody these larger than life characters and not crack up laughing is beyond me. How he can stage some of these stunts and not get beat-up or killed is also beyond me! Not everyone would have the courage to make-out with another man at a straight-pride rally! He is insane, brilliant and brave.

Overall, this movie would overwhelm a lot of people, but there are many great moments that make it worth the ride.