Sunday, July 12, 2009


If one finds this movie offensive, I feel that they simply don't 'get it.' I'm not saying that one can't walk away from this and be put off, but if they do, I feel they are missing a greater message. Baron Cohen's characters all expose a fear. Ali G. preyed on the fear of the rising urban or ghetto culture in our suburbs, Borat taught America a lesson about foreigners, and Bruno goes after the homophobia that some people don't even realize they harbor. The character of Bruno places his sexuality in our faces. There are moments that are either so utterly hilarious (such as the test screening for his new talk show) or so incredibly shocking (the crowd's reaction to the make-out session in the wrestling cage) that the movie leaves nothing off limits. Like Borat, Bruno is incredibly taboo and thanks to Baron Cohen and director Larry Charles, this has the feelings of a legitimate mockumentary. 

The premise of Bruno is that Baron Cohen's Austrian fashion expert decides to go to Los Angeles to become a famous celebrity, but he soon realizes that the only way to do so would be to become a straight man. All sorts of topics are then touched on such as the adopting of children by Hollywood stars to a more subversive "gays in the military" scenario. Bruno works at making people uncomfortable (from Ron Paul to a group of hunters). Even though the character is a parody of stereotypical gay culture (and let us not forget the number of straight actors who convincingly pull off gay roles), Baron Cohen once again shows just how uptight, isolated, and unwelcoming that people can be.

The audience is even a target. How much of the gay sex-machine toys can we take? Yet Bruno is in no way embarrassed by who he is throughout most of and by the end of the film. Certain jokes may be in questionable taste but the story of the faux documentary is not what incites the hate, it is the subjects that are interviewed. I refuse to ruin much more of the gags because a lot of the enjoyment comes from not knowing which crazy part of society Bruno is going to after next (will it be the parents of child stars or fortune tellers?).

The movie also exemplifies the talent of Baron Cohen. As great as everyone claimed Mike Myers was at playing multiple roles, his Austin Powers movies didn't require the kind of improvisation that Baron Cohen takes on. There are no writers for some scenes and it is easy to tell what is staged and what isn't. It speaks to Baron Cohen as a performer that both the staged and the reality are both equally hilarious.

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