Brüno (Another Take)
Where do I even start with this film…
Oh, right. There’s a lot of penis in this one. If you mind that, don’t see it.
Nevertheless, it’s an extremely entertaining movie. You don’t have to be studying it as I was or just looking for something to make you laugh: with 82 minutes, there is guaranteed 82 minutes of constant fun and fascination.
It features Sacha Baron Cohen in his third film to star one of his characters from his controversial hit series Da Ali G Show. This time he plays an über-flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion designer, critic and former TV show host. Did I mention he’s gay? Anyway, after being ostracized from the fashion world and losing his job due to wearing an all-Velcro suit to a fashion runway, he travels to Los Angeles to find stardom alongside his unattractive but competent assistant Lutz. Along the way he flirts with Ron Paul, adopts an African baby, interviews Paula Abdul while sitting on Mexican laborers, and attempts to get kidnapped by a Palestinian militia. Needless to say, it’s quite an adventure.
It follows in much the same style as Borat. A few of the people in the film are actors, but the majority have been tricked into thinking he is a legitimate fashion journalist (or an extra, which unfortunately is the case for the cast of Medium). This process elicits surprisingly authentic reactions from those interviewed or spoken to as an audience. However, I would say that this film is relatively less focused than its predecessor, primarily because it’s not a road movie with one conceivable goal. Borat must travel to Los Angeles on a small budget and convince Pamela Anderson to marry him. Brüno wants to be famous; there are many ways to do this, and he explores several of them. While they are humorous, it just didn’t seem very tight
My only other thought on what Brüno lacked was depth of character. Borat came from Kazakhstan, and his film utilized much of the public ignorance of that country’s culture to establish his character: misogynistic, anti-Semitic, etc. Brüno, on the other hand, had four things going for him: gay, Austrian, knows fashion, wants to be famous. Therefore, the writers had to push situations to more extreme levels (three particular scenes come to mind), and they were forced to rely on the people they were interviewing to be more outrageous in their responses. Not that it failed; on the contrary, I couldn’t stop laughing. But looking back, it felt weaker than it could have been.
In summary, I’d give Brüno 3 1/2 out of 5 pitchforks. While not as focused, insightful or ultimately memorable as his previous work, Sacha Baron Cohen manages to create outrageous escapades, lots of laughs and a few intelligent and perceptive scenes with real-life persons who are surprisingly more ridiculous than the title character.