Anthony's Film Review
Bruno is offensive, grotesque, and outrageous, but definitely written well enough to be considered noteworthy...
I know what you're thinking. If you've read my review for the 2006 film Borat, then you'll recall that I described the movie as offensive, grotesque, and outrageous. It is no accident that I describe the 2009 film Bruno with the same three adjectives. That's because Bruno, starring Sacha Baron Cohen as the title character, applies the same controversial method here as with Borat: conduct prank interviews with unsuspecting real people, behave very strangely in front of other unsuspecting real people, film fictional footage, and present it all in the context of a fictional story, all while generating great amounts of audience discomfort and laughter.
Basically, Bruno is a flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion reporter whose career comes to an end, all because he wears a velcro suit that accidentally clings to other wardrobe at a fashion show. He realizes that the only way to be famous is to find it in Los Angeles. So he and an assistant's assistant (no, this is not a typo) named Lutz fly to L.A. and embark on a journey to seek fame. From there, they experiment with a series of ideas. As you may expect, Bruno's openly gay behavior only makes things very complicated.
With the plot out of the way, what were the scenes that shocked me the most? Well, let's see. (Warning: Some of the following details are graphic.) There's the scene where Bruno makes a video of what he hopes would become a celebrity interview show on TV. Not only does it feature him doing gay dancing, but it also shows his penis, entirely uncensored, being twirled in circles before it speaks through its urethra as a mouth. There's also the part where Bruno adopts an African baby, names it O.J., and brags about it on Richard Bey's talk show in Dallas. That moment gets really bad when Bruno displays very offensive photos featuring the child, causing much of the audience, predominantly African-American, to walk out.
Other things in the film were shocking but not as much, including Bruno and Lutz out in public while wearing sexual paraphernalia, O.J. in a box at an airport, and a fully nude dominatrix. Aside from that, there were things I actually thought were genuinely funny. Early in the film, Bruno interviews American Idol judge Paula Abdul in a room without real furniture, instead resorting to Mexican gardeners acting as chairs (and a disgusting food platter). Later, Bruno eats a ton of dessert at a restaurant, to the shock of other diners, in a "carbicide" attempt. And then there's the highlight of the film where Bruno sets up a caged fighting match but shocks everyone when he madly kisses another man in the cage, nearly causing a riot. It's funny because the Celine Dion song "My Heart Will Go On" is playing while the man-on-man action is happening in slow motion.
Like the gangster Ali G and the Kazakh reporter Borat, Bruno comes to life because Sacha Baron Cohen goes to great lengths in terms of both acting and looking the part. This is one of the main reasons why I liked this movie despite the overtly offensive content. The star is just flawless in his performance, completely immersed in his character. And of course, his relentless bravery in offensive prank interactions, whether you like it or not, just cannot be ignored.
Overall, Bruno is more offensive than Borat and not as funny. However, this difference is a minor one. If you have a strong tolerance to objectionable material, chances are that you will still find Bruno engaging and clever. For me, I also found the movie interesting in that I remember hearing news stories here and there about Sacha Baron Cohen as Bruno causing disruption, which everyone knew meant filming was taking place. And now this vile, disgusting, yet entertaining and well written piece of work is out in the public. Love him or hate him, Sacha Baron Cohen is one hell of a fearless performance artist.
For more information about Bruno, visit the Internet Movie Database.