Brüno - Directed by Larry Charles, starring Sacha Baron Cohen - Rated R
Chigurh thought this one was funnier than Borat.
First off, let me get the quick version of this review out of the way: Brüno is just as good as Borat, if not better. In fact, in my opinion, it is the funnier of the two movies. So there you go: if you liked Borat, you'll probably like this. Now here's why.
Brüno is an Austrian homosexual fashion guru who falls out of favor in Europe and decides to come to America to become a celebrity. Not exactly like Borat, but close enough to say that the plot is basically the same in the whole fish out of water concept. In his journey, Brüno shocks normal people, embarrasses celebrities (Paula Abdul is ridiculed in a hilarious interview), incites rage, and, most of all, attempts to shock the audience. This all adds to up to absolute hilarity.
I wasn't expecting the film to be this funny, though. I wasn't sure if I would even like the main character enough to find him funny. The whole "Vassup! I'm Brüno!" line from the previews was annoying (he thankfully uses it sparingly in the film) and I was afraid that this was going to be an 80 minute lecture aimed at stupid, intolerant Americans. While that element is there, this film is really more about laughs than social commentary. Besides, this movie isn't trying to change any one's mind because anyone who has an intense hatred for homosexuals won't watch it to begin with. And if they go to the movie unaware of what it's about, the graphic sex scenes and gratuitous male nudity in the first fifteen minutes will let them know that this movie is a bit too out there for them. So if the audience is already on Sacha Baron Cohen's side, what's the point of the commentary? We're just there to laugh at society with him.
And Brüno is an easy guy to enjoy the joke with. He's not as awkward and backward (that's not to say he's normal, though, just look at the clothes he wears in the previews) as Borat. He's not as clueless as Borat, either, which allows him to make fun of people rather than be manipulated by them. The Austrian accent and constant Nazi references (he refers to Brad Pitt as "Bradolf Pittler" and Mel Gibson as "mein führer") are hilarious and his wide-eyed stare in uncomfortable situations is priceless (like when asks if anyone wants a sandwich during a swinger's party). I found it easier to laugh with Cohen in this one. Borat might be easier to like, but Brüno is easier to laugh with.I want to get into the social commentary aspect a bit more, since that is always what people talk about concerning Cohen's two films. The commentary is actually a bit lacking this time around. The whole film felt a bit more scripted, which is why I find it funnier. I don't need social commentary. It's not like I watched Borat, then had a revelation about anti-Semitism and ignorance in America. So I don't need Brüno to show me that southerners are intolerant of blatant homosexuals. It's just that Brüno is a radical homosexual, wearing ridiculous clothes and getting naked quite often. If you react angrily to that, that doesn't really mean you hate homosexuals. That means you don't want to a naked man touching you or even coming near you. But the failings of the social commentary don't detract from the film at all for me. If anything, it makes it better. If I want to hear about intolerance, I'll watch a real documentary. I watch Sacha Baron Cohen to laugh, not to contemplate America.
There is an element of social commentary that does work in this film, though. It concerns parents pimping their children out in the entertainment industry. Brüno holds a casting call for babies in which he asks the parents if their kids can lose weight, work with wasps, and operate antiquated machinery, among other things. The parents say yes to every request. The scenes are funny, and a little sickening. That says something about some people and their obsession with celebrity, which is actually the most effective point that this film makes.
There's not much else to say with about this film and I've honestly struggled to write this much about it. When it comes to comedies, I don't like to get into too much detail because it might ruin some of the jokes for some people. I do want to mention that some of the throwaway jokes in this film are absolutely hilarious. The little touches, like referring to Will Smith as Wilhelm Schmidt and the intro to his TV show in which the words "Black Guys" fill the screen, make this film funnier than Borat.
I could go on, but it would just be full of spoilers. I can't stress how funny this movie is without ruining it. Just watch it, don't look for a dissertation on American culture, look for some great laughs. You won't be disappointed.