Brüno (2009)

(On DVD, January 2011) I had very mixed feelings about Sacha Baron Cohen’s previous Borat: I’m not a fan of humiliation humour, and I was impressed more by the concept of the film than its execution.  But maybe that’s why I liked Brüno quite a bit better: The formula seems sharper, the targets more deserving (Ron Paul?  Heck yeah!) and the execution more confident.  Going from the European fashion circuit to Hollywood provides Cohen with numerous sources of inspired teasing, and confronting unsuspecting victims with a cliché of flamboyant homosexuality leads to more interesting reactions than Borat’s anti-Semitic foreigner.  (An alternate title for the film could be “Brüno and the repressed.”)  Cohen’s willingness to perform as Brüno is awe-inspiring: he throws himself in the role with daredevil abandon and doesn’t let anything scare him from getting his laughs.  The mixture of improvisation/documentary set-pieces within a larger scripted ensemble works well, and the climax of the film seems just a bit more satisfying than the previous one.  Certainly, Brüno is never dull, often daring and generally successful at what it tries to do.  The DVD is deservedly unrated, with enough full frontal male nudity to surprise even jaded viewers: viewers who want to be offended will be fulfilled.

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