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Sacha Baron Cohen's 'Bruno'
Gay fashionista hits the big screen
Brian Orndorf (briano)     Print Article 
Published 2009-07-10 15:24 (KST)   
It appears that the trilogy is now complete. After creating starring vehicles for his characters Ali G (2002셲 쏛li G Indahouse) and Borat Sagdiyev (2006셲 smash 쏝orat), the time has come for Sacha Baron Cohen to allow Bruno an opportunity to carry his own picture.

쏝runo will likely be welcomed by an adoring audience fully equipped to endure the traditional blast of Cohen-approved smut and merciless social commentary, especially after 쏝orat turned his obscure antics into box office gold. However, don셳 hold sudden international success against Cohen셲 superb modus operandi, who once again tears into a clueless world seeking to mock, celebrate, and disgust anyone who will welcome him.

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Watching his success on German television taken away from him, fashion expert Bruno (Sacha Baron Cohen) is ready to make the leap to America. Traveling to Los Angeles with assistant Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten), Bruno hopes to hit it big on network television, only to watch as his special brand of homosexually charged antics fail to impress American test audiences. Dejected, Bruno travels around the globe trying to make himself famous, finding nooks and crannies of culture to test his charms. Armed with his gumption, his adoptive African baby O.J., and his innate sense of cutting-edge style, Bruno finds he must make peace with himself before he can change the world.

With 쏝runo, Sacha Baron Cohen finds his velvet bag of magic tricks nearly empty. With the megaton success of 쏝orat, the actor is a now a fixture of the media spotlight, unable to hide behind careful disguises and fool unsuspecting victims. To help control the necessity for surprise, 쏝runo is caught somewhere between the faux-documentary shenanigans of 쏝orat and the straight-laced comedic stylistics of 쏛li G Indahouse. It셲 a bubbling potion of the staged and the real that supplies a suitable comfort zone for Cohen to manufacture his most outrageous character: a hulking gay fashionista with a tireless libido and a limited appreciation for personal space.

쏝runo doesn셳 feature a rigid structure, but merely provides a faint sense of purpose for our Austrian hero to go out into the world and try to spread his special brand of tight-pant'ed cheer through increasingly preposterous situations. If Ali G trafficked in B-boy stupidity and Borat represented extreme foreign clueless, Bruno is a big gay menace.

Using the character셲 homosexuality as the bayonet on the rifle of satire, 쏝runo is more consumed with stirring up homophobic response than trying to stitch together a consistent feature film. 쏝runo eventually sheds all dramatic pretenses to run free in the fields of Cohen셲 pervy imagination, sticking the character in impossible situations of conflict to capture the often colorful reactions.

Whether he셲 enlisting in boot camp, trying to seduce Ron Paul to help market a sex tape, appearing on a Jerry Springer'esque talk show to defend his African baby, meeting with Christian homosexual conversion experts, struggling to interview Paula Abdul while using Mexican day laborers as furniture, looking to broker peace in the Middle East, visiting a swinger셲 party, or assuming disguise as 쏶traight Dave and staging a UFC event (taking the sport to its natural conclusion), Bruno is craving fame at any cost.

Cohen셲 enviable energy in the role goes a long way toward smoothing out the rough edges of the film making, working to mold a thin structure of fame-whore ridiculousness to a picture more concerned with gags and punchlines, often accompanied by graphic male nudity. 쏝runo is habitually shocking, especially in the manner it fixates on anal play and the defiant heterosexuality of the marks, but Cohen keeps the horseplay frothy enough to avoid a hate crime mentality.

쏝runo doesn셳 break new ground for Cohen and his marvelous comic impulses, but it gives him room to play, and that셲 just as welcome. 쏝runo contains plenty of belly laughs, audible gasps, and provides a sly refresher on obscene civilian prejudice, drilling to the cancerous heart of intolerance one laugh at a time.

B+
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Brian Orndorf

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