**** (out of 5)
July 10, 2009
Sacha Baron Cohen as BRÜNO
Gustaf Hammarsten as LUTZ
Clifford Banagale as DIESEL
Chibundu & Chigozie Orukwowu as O.J.
Directed by: Larry Charles
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
As I sat watching the early press screening of “Brüno,” laughing my ass off, I watched no less than two dozen people in the rows in front of me walk out of the theater in disgust. The thought that immediately came to mind was that this was a great sign for the movie.
I cannot imagine what would compel someone to see “Brüno,” much less an early buzzed-about screening of the film, and get offended. Back when “Borat” came out three years ago, it was an unknown quantity and it took a lot of people by surprise. However, with “Brüno,” there has been all the hype surrounding the trailer, the offended people ready to sue and all the “Borat” history that preceded it. Yet, people continue to amaze me, and they were offended by the film.
And with good reason. Jive-talking robots and Ben Stiller “going full retard” be damned. “Brüno” is easily one of the most offensive films to hit the theaters screens in years, and that is what makes it awesome.
Patterned very similarly to 2006’s “Borat,” “Brüno” follows the gay Austrian fashionista alter-ego of performance artist Sacha Baron Cohen, whose faux fashion show “Funkyzeit mit Brüno” has been canceled. The wild-dressing, in-your-face gay boy Brüno then comes to America to become a huge celebrity. His plan involves producing a pilot for his own celebrity interview show, turning “straight” like other big stars like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and goading everyone from Republican presidential candidates to rednecks in the anti-gay movement.
Directed by Larry Charles, who helmed “Borat,” “Brüno” follows a similar formula. Cohen sneaks into various events and dupes celebrities and non-actors alike into his antics. It follows a more contrived story than “Borat” did, and it has lost a bit of freshness considering that “Borat” flew completely under the radar until its release.
The biggest obstacle the film has is that it kept me guessing as to which parts were staged and which were completely real reactions. While I can imagine that Congressman Ron Paul could have been duped into his hilarious bit by Cohen, but it’s hard to believe that celebs like Paula Abdul and Harrison Ford walked into their interviews completely unaware as to what this was all about. Even supporting characters, like Brüno’s befuddled L.A. agent were in so deep that I didn’t quite believe the authenticity.
However, with ambush journalism rampant in America and everyone from Michael Moore to the “Jackass” crowd trying to steal that real reaction for their film, I enjoyed this film as a piece of screwball fun which seemed a little more Stephen Colbert than “Candid Camera.”
The film is unapologetic in its attack on both the gay community and the anti-gay community. It’s made for the socially moderate political mind who can laugh at both sides of this issue (which seems to be the majority of Americans… at least the majority of those who are going to see a raunchy R-rated comedy like this one).
If you’ve seen the trailers and followed any of the news, you’ll notice some suspiciously absent scenes that have already been buzzed about. Some, like the scene with LaToya Jackson, have been trimmed for good taste. Others, like the bingo segment which resulted in a lawsuit and a visit to a department store, have been dropped without incident.
“Brüno,” which was originally handed an NC-17 rating, still pushes the limits of an R-rating, but that is to be expected. Personally, I can’t wait for the DVD and Blu-ray release, which if it is anything like that of “Borat,” will includes hours of unused, uncensored bits that will be possibly funnier than the film itself.
So here’s the bottom line… See “Brüno,” and you will quite easily be offended on some level, but you’ll also laugh your ass off, which are the two main intentions of the movie. Dare to be offended! Dare to experience “Brüno”!