Bruno


Directed by: Larry Charles
Written by:Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer, Jeff Schaffer
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Gustaf Hammarsten
Released: July 9, 2009
Grade: B+

I’m giving this film a mildly positive review because, above all else, it is an “experience”.  It has its flaws and I don’t have any plans to see it for a second time but hey, it generated an emotional response.  Some scenes left me crying with laughter.  Other scenes left me shocked and offended.

For those who aren’t yet familiar with the fictional Bruno, he’s a flamboyantly gay Austrian “fashionista”.  Cohen is currently touring the world to promote the film and he always remains in character.  It’s all part of his act and it’s a similar marketing strategy to that which he used for Borat.  There’s no doubt that he’s got people talking… especially after his appearance with Kevin Rudd on Rove.

Bruno isn’t a new character.  Cohen created him back in 1998 and he has popped up numerous times on Da Ali G Show.  Following the success of Borat, Universal decided that Bruno deserved a full-length feature film of his very own and this leads us to where we are today.

The overriding premise of the film is about Bruno travelling to the United States and doing his utmost to become famous.  He tries to get a role in a movie, he tries to start his own talk show and he even tries adopting an African baby.  Forget the story though.  In reality, it’s just a bunch of skits – some funny than others.

I found the first half the most entertaining.  Two moments in particular that left me laughing heartedly – when Bruno screens a preview of his new talk show to a test audience, and when Bruno tries to interview Harrison Ford.  There is a lot more to chuckle over including Bruno’s impromptu walk down the catwalk at a fashion show.

The novelty started to wear off in the second half when I reached the conclusion that most of the scenes were staged.  With cameras everywhere, there’s no way that these people didn’t know they were being set up.  An example is Bruno’s trip to a military base where he tries to transform into a heterosexual.  I’m sure there were legitimate set ups, like the Ron Paul scene for example, but the overriding falseness to the whole film left a bad taste in my mouth.

On the whole, I have to ask what Cohen is out to achieve with a film like this?  Is it purely just for laughs and shock value?  If so, he has delivered.  Or is he trying to go deeper - to highlight some of the bigotry and discrimination that exists within our world?  If so, then he has failed.  This film says nothing about the general population.  It just makes fun of celebrities and extremists.

The film was originally rated R but a few small cuts have been made to have it reclassified as MA here in Australia.  The changes will give more of the younger demographic a chance to see the film and that should give the box-office a boost.  I was disappointed with the extremely short running time.  Do you really get value for money when a film clocks in at less than 80 minutes?  A lot of dud material must have been left on the cutting room floor.

This isn’t as good as Borat and I think most people will agree with that statement.  That said, I’m not asking for my time back.  I’m glad to have seen it.