Bruno Goes Where No Comedy Has Gone Before
- Friday, July 10, 2009
DVD Release Date: November 17, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: July 10, 2009
Rating: R (for pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language)
Run Time: 1 hr. 22 min.
Director: Larry Charles
Actors: Sascha Baron Cohen, Gustaf Hammarsten, Clifford Bannagale, Chibundo Orukwowo, Chigozie Orukwowo, Josh Meyers
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following critique references adult subject matter and contains explicit descriptions of objectionable material depicted in the film being reviewed. Parents, please exercise caution before allowing children to read.
Last year's boisterous comedy Tropic Thunder thrived by mocking the absurdities of Hollywood celebrity culture, but in one jarring scene late in the film, the dialogue becomes bluer than blue. Jack Black's drug-deprived character, who has asked to be restrained so as to prevent him from getting his fix, bargains with his costars to untie him and allow him to satisfy his cravings. In explicit detail, he describes a certain sexual act he's willing to perform on his male friends if only they release him. The dialogue is vivid and extreme—the words of a desperate man willing to do anything to feed his addiction.
The sexual shock comedy that made for one startling scene in Tropic Thunder forms the basis for the feature-length comedy Brüno. The film, written by and starring Sascha Baron Cohen (Borat) in the title role, multiplies the vivid dialogue and adds several moments of explicit sexual imagery in telling its comic tale of a gay Austrian TV host who wants to conquer America's entertainment complex.
Cohen's previous film, Borat, featured a sexually crazed main character who wanted to marry Pamela Anderson, but Brüno takes the sexual dimension of this latest Cohen creation to new limits. Brüno is proudly out of the closet, and the movie is as much an examination of how different Americans react to his often outrageous language and mannerisms as it is a depiction of one flamboyant gay man's quest to be a star.
Brüno is happily hosting his own TV show and living with a young boyfriend in Austria when a fashion-runway mishap leads to his dismissal. He leaves behind his boyfriend and their sexual escapades (which are depicted in one eye-popping sequence) and heads for America, determined to take the country by storm by following the path of other successful U.S. celebrities. Along for the journey is Brüno's assistant's assistant, Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten), who longs to be Brüno's romantic partner.
Brüno is much more interested in being a media sensation, but a series of missteps hinder his mission. He tries to become an actor, but his exhibitionism isn't a good fit for someone relegated to being an extra (his repeated efforts to stand out as an extra in the TV show Medium constitute one of the film's best—and relatively cleanest—moments), and a pilot TV show hosted by Brüno that features images of a talking penis is harshly rejected. He visits a psychic in hopes he'll hear of imminent career success, and ends up performing imagined fellatio on the called-up spirit of a former pop-music star. An interview with Paula Abdul goes awry, and his attempt to proposition Ron Paul only angers the Texas politician.
Following the lead of Angelina Jolie and Madonna, he adopts a black baby (Chibundo Orukwowo and Chigozie Orukwowo) from Africa and stuffs him into a suitcase for a trip to his new home in the United States. Later, he riles a talk-show audience with his views on alternative parenting of the child, whom he proudly labels a "gayby."
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