Bruno – Review

Just like Borat, except not funny

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Director: Larry Charles
Notable Cast:
Sasha Baron Cohen, Gustaf Hammarsten

Sasha Baron Cohen is one of the more talented comic actors working and the three characters that propelled him to fame have all garnered their own films. Ali G In Da House was a nice sendoff to a character well past his shelf life, Borat was a shocking hit that made Cohen a star and Bruno is a god-awful film. There’s no way around it, unfortunately, as the film is proof that Cohen is significantly more talented then his past and should be moving in a new direction.

The film has an interesting premise: Bruno (Cohen) is a fashion journalist and host of Funkyzeit, an Austrian show about the world of fashion. He is noted in the field and has considerable clout until an accident involving a suit made entirely of Velcro puts him on the fashion blacklist. Journeying to America to become famous, Bruno finds that becoming a major celebrity is harder than it looks and fails his way to epic hilarity. Or at least that’s the premise; the result is much less funny and surprisingly much more analytical about the nature of celebrity than it probably was designed for.

Bruno offers an incredible insight about the nature of celebrity and becoming famous in America, if only on accident. Bruno’s whole quest for fame, including some amusing notes from a focus group on his attempt at a celebrity television show, revolves around the rampant stupidity that oftentimes generates some level of fame. From sex tapes to endorsement of causes, Bruno is unintentionally a scathing indictment of the nature of celebrity. Bruno’s dealings with a P.R firm stand out in particular. It’s fascinating to see Bruno’s farcical, probing attempts at a reaction in regards to adapting a celebrity cause be treated with such seriousness. Bruno’s attempted seduction of former Presidential candidate Ron Paul under the guise of a celebrity sex tape is amusing and insightful as well. But this is where the film squanders any sort of insight it could provide with oodles of bad comedy mainly because it finds an endless fascination with showing that Bruno is gay.

Despite all this insight, the film has one card it plays well after the joke has worn thin. Bruno is a homosexual and flamboyant to an excessive degree. And in the beginning Larry Charles and Cohen want to really hammer home that point, but they never take the foot off the gas pedal in terms of handling it. Even the most ardent backer of the homosexual community will eventually want them to stop. Bruno is a character defined by his sexuality, admittedly, but the film takes such great things to continually establish himself as a homosexual that it takes away from establishing any sort of comedic bona fides. Larry Charles seems to think by just going “Bruno is gay” that we ought to laugh. It opens the doors for so many more gags that are left off Cohen’s comedic table.

Bruno came in with enough buzz to give Sasha Baron Cohen another major hit with a character that helped earn him notoriety. At this point he should be exploring other characters, as even what amounts to a slightly extended cameo role in Sweeney Todd was impressive enough that he should be going for more. And the film shows it as well.


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