I’ll be honest right from the start — Bruno is not for the faint of heart (that rhymed, unintentionally). There are plenty of gross-out moments, including a talking dickhole and plenty of Dildo play. Sascha Baron Cohen has a character as flamboyantly homosexual as Austrian Fashionista Bruno, and he’s not shy about exploiting people’s true selves on camera. His effort here is no less devoted than in the smash hit “Borat,” however Bruno lacks what the predecessor had in spades. Spontaneity.
Because while “Borat” seemed to be completely unscripted and off-the-cuff humor where a talented actor simply played with the cards he was dealt by real people in semi-real situations, everything about Bruno seems a little bit too set-up. It’s virtually a string of interviews Bruno does, tied together somewhat sloppily. Because while Borat had a mission, to get to L.A. to marry Pamela Anderson, Bruno doesn’t seem to have a real mission or anything it’s working towards. However, it’s still an effective comedy because it’s funny as hell. But, in comparison to his last effort, Bruno is just a little disappointing.
Baron Cohen still effectively shines a light on intolerance and outright stupidity, as the movie is filled with plenty of “Holy Shit” moments. He interviews a string of stage parents as they attempt to secure their children an acting job, and the things these people are willing to do to their children is appalling. One mother even claims that she will allow her small child to lose 10 pounds just to secure the job.
Bruno mimes a rusty trombone (on Milli, from Milli and Vanilli) in a room with a man who claims he can contact the dead. Baron Cohen’s devotion is second to none, and he throws himself completely into these absurd characters. He attempts to be “scared straight,” both by joining the Army and by meeting with men whose entire job is to preach the gay out of young people. The final scene is at a set-up Ultimate Fighting-esque arena in Arkansas, where instead of a free fight, the audience is subjected to a man on man make out session in the middle of the ring. The crowd goes absolutely crazy, not just upset they had been conned, but upset that two men were kissing. If that’s actually how the world works in Arkansas, I’m staying the hell out. Because every person shown looks like a complete and utter tool.
And for everything Bruno manages to do effectively, it still suffers from the problem of having no direction. Bruno is just trying to become famous, and it’s not nearly the journey we were treated to in “Borat”. Each interview segment is set-up, there aren’t many interactions between Bruno and someone who isn’t aware that they are being interviewed. It loses a little bit of the mustard that made his previous outing so fantastically funny.
People who just want to laugh are going to get exactly what they want, because Bruno is packed full of laughs. However, those going in expecting a phenomenal overall movie will be leaving the theater a little disappointed because, for all the laughs the movie earns, there just seems to be a lot left on the table.
It’s weird to say, but it is actually even more outlandish than Baron Cohen’s last effort, and that’s what most people are going to want. Baron Cohen does successfully shine a light on the intolerance that still plagues this nation, especially in terms of homosexuality, as his flamboyant character parades around taking no prisoners. The only problem is that the parade seems a little too telegraphed, and the situations are genuinely too set up to provide another remarkable display of guerrilla comedy.
Score: 7.7/10 (Funny, if a little disappointing)