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Film Review: "Brüno"
July 7, 2009
by: Jared Counts
(Universal Pictures. 1 hour, 23 minutes. Rated R for pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language. Directed by Larry Charles.) Sacha Baron Cohen (Brüno), Gustaf Hammarsten (Lutz), Clifford Bañagale (Diesel), Chibundu & Chigozie Orukwowu (O.J.). Music by Erran Baron Cohen.
After a Fashion Week mishap involving a Velcro suit, flamboyantly gay fashionista Brüno heads to America to become a celebrity, with unsettling but hilarious results. I'll warn you right now: they weren't kidding around about the R rating. It could have easily been an NC-17 if not for a few judiciously placed boxes and blurs. The film (though it more closely resembles a social experiment) sets out to skewer homophobia and the hunger for celebrity that has seeped into our culture, and it succeeds on both counts, though more so on the latter. In one scene in particular, Cohen is interviewing parents to fill a role in a photo shoot with his newly adopted son. The results, with the parents agreeing to subject their children to more and more outlandish requirements, make me hope that scene is scripted and not spontaneous. His attempts to start a charity, bring peace to the "Middle Earth" (his term for the Middle East), make a sex tape (with the help of an unsuspecting Ron Paul) and start his own TV show are also sharply satirical and very funny. His exploration into the American reaction to overt homosexuality is funny in places, but seems a bit too easy, spending most of its time taking potshots at the Deep South. Having that smaller geographical pool to draw from limits some of the spontaneity that Borat exhibited, a film whose widespread success probably limited that pool further. If anything, Cohen should be commended for his sheer chutzpah and ability to stay in character when situations go from uncomfortable to downright dangerous. Cohen fans and the very open-minded will find a lot to appreciate, but Brüno is definitely not for the easily offended.