I desperately wanted to love Bruno. No, not like that. I didn’t mean “love” Bruno, the actual man. I was talking about the film itself. Not that there’s anything wrong with loving the man, it’s just not… oh, forget it. When Bruno was released in theaters, I couldn’t wait to buy my ticket. After all, it was the new brainchild from Sacha Baron Cohen, the comical genius who exposed America’s chewy, racist center in all of its ignorant glory with the outrageously hilarious Borat. So how on earth could Bruno, Cohen’s big follow up, not be equally as outrageous and funny? Unfortunately, to my dismay, Cohen and the other filmmaker’s focused too much of their creative energy on the outrageous part and laid up on the funny.
The original mission statement of Bruno looked great on paper. It was to do for homophobia what Borat did for ethnic prejudice. In the film, Cohen of course plays the titular Bruno, another one of the many eccentric personalities he created on his sketch comedy show, Da Ali G Show. Bruno is an Austrian fashion reporter who, after ruining one of the worlds most premiere fashion shows with his Velcro tuxedo, is blacklisted from the world of style. Upon being shunned, Bruno decides the only place where he can make it big again is Hollywood. So he relocates to Tinseltown where he takes a swing at being a celebrity. However, it’s not too easy for the chic fashionista and Bruno encounters a few mishaps along the way in his quest for superstar status. Oh, and did I mention that the man is 100% flamboyantly gay?
Coincidentally, Bruno was made by pretty much all the same creative forces that made Borat. Larry Charles (Religulous) helmed the director’s chair for the second time and star Sacha Baron Cohen once again produced the film and co-wrote the script with Anthony Hines and Dan Mazer. So what did Borat have that this movie didn’t? What was Bruno lacking?
Well for starters, the immaturity level was lowered so much so that I could have sworn they hired a group of 13-year-old boys to write some of the gay jokes. I mean, performing a painfully long sexual act on deceased Milli Vanilli singer Rob Pilatus’ ghost? Come on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of offensive and immature humor but there is definitely a limit to how many times you can make use of an exercise bike rigged with a sex toy before it gets old. Yes, you read that right. Not five minutes into the film, there is a scene where Bruno and his petite Asian boyfriend “proclaim their love” for each other in remarkable fashions. It’s a prime indication that you’re about to view something that is going to lean a little more on ridiculous side of things.
One of the things that made Borat so successful was the idea that this fictitious character, who everyone assumes is real, is able to bring out such ugly truths of the people that he meets and expose certain Americans for what they really are, which in Borat’s case was racist. Just think back to how unbelievable it was to hear a group of drunken college kids profess their hate for foreign immigrants. And even though Bruno desperately tried to do this as well and capture that same harsh reality on camera, it was far less shocking to find out that a group of middle-aged southern men who enjoy hunting don’t like being hit on by a gay guy or that a group of lower income, 40-something swingers are kind of creepy.
I would like to point out, seeing how this has mostly been a negative review, that I did laugh quite a bit during Bruno. Not shocking, Cohen makes the movie entertaining enough with his ballsy, no holds bar comedy that knows no bounds. I swear the man is not afraid to do anything for a laugh, an attribute that almost always proves successful for a comedian. His quick one liners dressed up in that thick Austrian accent are pretty amusing throughout the film. For instance, when he refers to Brad Pitt as “Bradeth Pittler,” priceless.
As far as the DVD extras go, they are only going to get you excited if you really enjoyed the film. Otherwise it’s just more of the same. Plenty of deleted, extended and alternative scenes for you to enjoy including the infamous scene where Bruno interviews Michael Jackson’s sister La Toya on his new, trendy furniture, which is really just illegal immigrants on their hands and knees. She plays along for a while until Bruno steals her Blackberry to get Michael’s number. The scene was originally in the theatrical cut of the film, but was pulled after the tragic death of the pop singer.
The shining star of the special features is without a doubt the commentary track given by Sacha Barron Cohen and director Larry Charles. More interesting then funny, anyone who has ever asked themselves, “where do they find these people” or “why do they think that’s funny,” needs to watch the film with the commentary on. You’ll get an eye-opening look on how Bruno was made and on how they went about filming some of the movie’s most risky scenes and why.
One of the many quotes that is splattered across the DVD cover of Bruno is “Funnier than Borat.” A more accurate quote would be “Ridiculously immature, extremely vulgar and kind of funny. But definitely not funnier than Borat.” You will laugh while watching Bruno, especially if you are a fan of Sacha Barron Cohen, but buy the time the movie finishes and Bruno is singing a medley with Bono, Sting, Elton John and Chris Martin during the end credits (seriously), you will definitely wish you laughed a little more.