“Bruno,” the fussed-over Sacha Baron Cohen film, goes where no man has before … like into the ass of Milli Vanilli’s spirit.
The film, available on DVD tomorrow, will disgust and disturb even the dirtiest minds with its superfluous sex and pokes at gay culture, gay marriage, gay adoption, gay play and gay hate. Yes, it’s all very gay.
Bruno, a queer Austrian fashionista, is gung-ho over becoming “the biggest Austrian sensation since Hitler,” leading him in pursuit of desperate measures, like stealing a black baby – and calling him “Gayby” – and trying to bring peace to the Middle East (learning the difference between the Hamas and hummus might help).
Yeah, he’s a dimwit – and more annoying than “Borat.” No one wanted to hug the dweeby foreigner, but at least we had a soft spot for the (very hairy) fish out of water. Bruno’s just selfish and horny, and horny some more – and unapologetic about all of it.
He’s always in your face. And in a lot more, I imagine. Oh, I don’t have to. “Bruno” throws it all at us – dildo self-defense, man-made chairs (literally), anal play, swinger parties – and finds new ways to taser the numbed.
Everything about “Bruno” shocks, and anyone who saw “Borat” gets it: “Bruno,” like Baron Cohen’s anti-Semitism expose, is a mirror to our societal absurdities, uncovering intolerance and homophobia and much more than many care to see by plopping its lead actor into awkward and shady real-life situations involving hicks, bimbos and Ron Paul.
He makes them look dumb; we laugh. Sometimes a lot.
Where stereotypes are inflated to maximum circumference, the PC bubble undergoes a big popping – everyone, from Mexican immigrants to blacks and Tom Cruise, is bait. Comedians like Lisa Lampanelli and Sarah Silverman have essentially done the same sorta equal-opportunity offending, exposing stereotypes and shrouding them in stupidity. Bruno’s playing the same game – when he’s not making himself look asinine, he’s making others look it. And he does that damn well.
Following a Bruno epiphany in which he realizes his claim-to-fame mission can only come to fruition if he drops the gayness, he tries to become an ex-gay. Because that works. The consulting pastor tells Bruno that he can really, truly master the art of turning hetero if he ceases listening to the Indigo Girls. Or at least The Village People. The real joke here isn’t Bruno; it’s his homophobic, duped and often idiotic subjects who are tragically narrow-minded … and think that the “Y.M.C.A.” creates homosexuals.
The skimpy farce – 83 minutes – is a scattershot comedy that slips when it puts shock over smart, going for cheap, forced raunchy-sex jokes instead of satirical comedy. When its brain’s lit up, like during the film’s final half – the hysterical, better one – it wickedly works.
But the more outrageous it is, the faker it looks. No one can convince me that Bruno made it onto “Medium,” a TV drama, as an extra or that Paula Abdul was totally unaware she was being punk’d, no matter how flaky she is. That almost ruins it. So does the lack of fluidity that was in “Borat,” which it tries too hard to duplicate. Instead, creator Baron Cohen and co-writer Anthony Hines’ bigger, gayer brother is a hodgepodge of jumpy sketches that run the gamut from sick to sicker to sickest.
This became an issue, apparently, during MPAA wars, as Baron Cohen explains on a very enlightening, better-than-the-movie commentary, part of the disc’s EXTRAS. The Milli Vanilli miming-a-blowjob bit was considered too much for an R-rated movie – at first. Some convincing later, they ran with it. Hear Baron Cohen and and director Larry Charles defend it on the DVD with a tear-provoking-hilarious fruit analogy. They also ackowledge the LGBT-group controversy, whether this movie is good for gays and, in what should give viewers a deeper appreciation for Baron Cohen’s fearless tactics, how he laid his life on the line to film this flick. He also clears something up: That’s not his swinging penis. It’s a dick double’s. Yeah. Sad.
Lots of deleted and alternate scenes flood the rest of the disc, and there’s some good stuff in there, like when he crashes a Prop 8 rally. The bad? The famed LaToya Jackson duping is about as awkward as it would’ve been had they kept it in the film. And besides it being in poor taste to do so, a very baffled Paula Abdul sitting on a Mexican is just far funnier.
Film: B-; Extras: A-