Caught a sold-out screening of Brüno on Friday night, in Manhattan. Hysterically shocking, very funny, and politically curious, the film is all I hoped it would be. I was prepared for the work to feel less-inventive coming at us post-Borat, and that’s what it is, a bit of a retread. However, this is a retread worth paying money to see, especially with a cackling and raucous audience. Who cares if the structure of the film is a carbon copy of Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen is so outrageously committed to character and comedy, that it feels more like a great companion piece to his Oscar-nominated 2006 sensation.
Compared to that sensation, which had all sorts of audiences nationwide quoting and clamoring, I doubt Brüno can be the same sort of phenomenon in multiplexes. It will make a bunch of money, but it will also shock folks away from recommending it or even seeing it in the first place. There are images in this film that have never been seen in a wide studio release, the kind of stuff that is typically found at LGBT indie film festivals. So, while I’m sure Brüno will go a long way in opening minds, it’s a film that will shake people our of their comfort zones. Which can be a good thing, but it is not the thing of $200 million box office.
There’s no point in discussing the details of the film’s “plot,” because I would either ruin it for you or just waste your time. However, I must say that I found the first half of the film very revealing and think there’s a bigger story lying within. What I’m referring to, are Brüno’s various interviews with the completely ridiculous and opportunistic industries in Hollywood. Sacha Baron Cohen puts on a parade of disturbingly funny characters that make their living from ridiculous things, that would feel out of place anywhere but Los Angeles. This includes two vacant charity PR consultants (who are unable to pronounce “Darfur”), a series of crazy stage parents (one mother offers to give her young daughter liposuction), a celebrity psychic, an anal waxer/bleacher, and more. These segments reveal more truth about the sad state of Hollywood lifestyle, than a thousand VH-1 or Bravo reality shows.