Tagline: Borat was so 2006
Synopsis: Flamboyantly gay Austrian television reporter Bruno (Sacha Baron Cohen) stirs up trouble with unsuspecting guests and large crowds through brutally frank interviews and painfully hilarious public displays of homosexuality.
Round-up: “Bruno’s irrepressible outré sexuality is only the most provocative aspect of his mad exhibitionism. ‘Bruno’ burlesques homophobia the way ‘Borat’ did anti-Semitism, but its true subject is the nature of celebrity—or rather the dialectic between celebrity and otherness,” writes ef="http://www.villagevoice.com/2009-07-08/film/sacha-baron-cohen-in-queerface-for-bruno-mumblecore-boys-in-bed-for-humpday/">Village Voice's Hoberman. “Like any star, Baron Cohen resolves contradictions—he’s an open-minded bigot, an amoral moralist, an honest conman, a clever fool, and a performer whose crudeness is filled with grace. Even more than ‘Borat,’ ‘Bruno’ attests to the actor’s skill at verbal and physical comedy.” From David Edelstein’s review for New York Magazine: “If the latest Sacha Baron Cohen provocation, ‘Bruno,’ seems less sadistic than ‘Borat,’ it’s because wagging one’s gay butt in the face of potentially violent homophobes is not just aggressive, it’s borderline suicidal. I mean: ‘Bruno’ puts the moves on hunters with guns. In ‘The Hurt Locker,’ journalist Chris Hedges is quoted saying war can be a drug, ‘a potent and often lethal addiction’—and Baron Cohen is a genuine comic guerrilla, charging right to the front lines of the war against prejudice and sanctimony. What’s open to debate is whether he’s also a comic gorilla—a cheap-shot artist, a mauler.” Edelstein’s conclusion: “Underlying all these gags—the funny, the crude, the funny and crude—is a hard truth: Flagrant gay behavior drives a lot of heteros insane. To be honest, I’m uncomfortable watching two guys with tongues down each other’s throats, too, but at least I know the problem is mine, not theirs. When the hushed, arty ‘Brokeback Mountain’ came out, its couplings set against purple mountains majesty, many right-wing commentators announced that they couldn’t bear to watch such abominations. To them—and to those who’ll see ‘Bruno’ because it’s the latest gross-out comedy sensation—Baron Cohen is proclaiming, ‘Suck on this!’” “Beneath the idiocy, Baron Cohen is also a politically astute agent who’s devised an ingenious way to confront and expose serious social issues - and indulge his own exhibitionism,” writes Steve Rose for The Guardian. “‘Bruno’ is funniest, though, when it’s at its most politically incorrect, especially when it comes to homosexuality. There’s an eye-popping montage of extreme gay sex practices (imaginary, one hopes), a surfeit of waving penises, dildos, fetish gear, anal bleaching, and an excruciating mime in which Brüno fellates the ghost of a deceased member of Milli Vanilli in front of a psychic. Much of it is unavoidably hilarious, but is he lampooning homophobia or perpetuating it? Either way, he gets away with a great deal simply by being a brilliant physical comedian. That should stand him in good stead.” From Nick Schager’s review for Slant Magazine: “‘Bruno’s’ representation of homosexuality has been the crux of concern in certain corners, and with some good reason. Whereas Kazakhstani journalist Borat is an anti-Semite whose prejudiced comments compel others to articulate hate for Jews, Bruno attempts to prod homophobia through aggressively gay behavior. The two characters have divergent relationships to their intended targets—Borat being on their side, Brüno being the source of their bigotry—and, given those dynamics, Bruno’s lurid behavior could, in theory, become the joke itself, confirming and exploiting stereotypes for derisive humor. Yet Cohen, shrewd as ever, sidesteps such pitfalls by immediately going for the over-the-top jugular, providing during ‘Bruno’s’ first few minutes a montage of machinery-assisted sex so insane that the star swiftly, definitively posits his material as first and foremost about the hilarity of boundary-pushing nastiness.” “There are 61 laughs, three dildos, one gyrating, talking penis, an anal bleaching and one very pissed-off politician in ‘Bruno,’ which should be enough to make any movie fly,” observes Todd McCarthy’s Variety review. “But there is also a pronounced nasty streak to the innumerable provocations staged by the title character that curdles the laughs and wears out the flamboyant Austrian fashionista’s welcome within the picture’s brief 82-minute running time. Undeniably funny, outrageous and boundary-pushing, this further documentation of Sacha Baron Cohen’s sheer nerve will draw an abundant share of ‘Borat’ fans, gross-out seekers and the culturally curious, making for some potent B.O. figures, at least at first. But the content will turn off some (no doubt including some gays), as will the sourness and ill will triggered by the picture’s cumulative misanthropy.”