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Great comedian and a funny, controversial premise.
Sacha Baron Cohen Stars in "Bruno."
OPENING WEEKEND: $42,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $130,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

April 20th, 2009: Flamboyant Austrian fashionista Brüno takes his show to America.

What to Expect: Okay, more full disclosure. I have never seen any of Sacha Baron Cohen's skits or films. I know, I know...I've never seen "Borat." I confess. I hear you saying, what kind of a film writer can you be if you haven't seen "Borat?" And in response to that I'll just offer you a big steaming cup of STFU, because I can't see everything, okay? I admit as well that his style of guerrilla comedy makes me a bit...squirmy. I get uncomfy watching people get totally made fun of, even if they really deserve it. So I have heard plenty of tell, but I have not personally partaken.

Article continues below

Still, I gotta hand it to the guy. He has no fear. He'll do anything. And yet sometimes I find myself asking what separates him from those idiots at "Jackass" who use similar tactics? The ambush interview, the posing-as-legit confrontation. Is it that Cohen has cache because he's British? Or merely because he does it better, and with less fart jokes?

Whatever the reason, he's back, so beware anyone who wants to interview you for any reason. After the huge success of "Borat," Cohen is returning to screens as Bruno, his gay Austrian fashionista persona, in a new film with the tongue-twisting but accurate title of "Bruno: Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt." Delicious journeys through that sentence is more like it.

Sightings of Cohen as Bruno have been popping up since last fall. You'd think that with his level of fame, Cohen would be recognized everywhere he went, but he has a truly uncanny ability to disguise himself. Go Google a picture of Borat, then one of Bruno from the new film. You really have to look hard to realize it's the same guy, and neither of them look anything like Cohen out of character. It's kind of...spooky.

The first sighting may have been in Wichita, where the officials granted a film crew permission to shoot images of a European arriving, except when they got there they all stripped down to hot pants and started go-go dancing in the lobby of the airport. The next big splash was in last fall's Milan fashion shows, where Cohen was arrested for jumping on the stage at several runway shows in outlandish outfits and running around backstage in a jumpsuit made of Velcro, hurling himself at racks of clothing and picking up whatever he could. The real fashionistas were not pleased, but the Italian police seem to have had a good laugh over it. They were quoted as saying that Cohen was very funny and stayed in character.

Then, Cohen was spotted at a Prop 8 rally a couple of days before the election...in support of the amendment. Dressed conservatively, he rallied along with protestors until someone recognized him and he had to be whisked away. There was confusion at first. Was this Bruno, or a new character (who was being called Straight Dave) that Cohen was piloting, possibly to debut in the new film? Now some reports have Bruno trying to go straight as part of the film's plotline, so this may have been a segment for that portion of the film. I guess we'll have to find out.

The list goes on and on. Ben Affleck got ambushed by Bruno in a red carpet interview, where he was asked how he felt about "the N-word." He told a friend it was the weirdest interview he'd ever been a part of, and upon hearing that the questioner's name was Bruno, his friend had to let good old Ben in on the fact that he'd been pwned by Sacha Baron Cohen. Then...and this one really gets me giggling...he tricked Ron Paul into a hotel room for an interview, supposedly to talk about financial policy, but then started stripping. Paul, horrified, fled the scene. He's furious and has been making some noise about it in the media.

How does Cohen dupe all these people into letting him do these things, and agree to these interviews? Well, he's no dummy. He sets up front companies, complete with websites and contact info, to give his "organization" the air of legitimacy. Smoking Gun revealed the names of four of them; those four were immediately retired, but then Cohen registered up to 27 more.

And yet it's more than just the appearance of legitimacy. Cohen seems to have the ability to talk his way into anything. Somehow, he got himself onto the set of "Medium," posing as an extra. He repeatedly disrupted a courtroom scene until he was finally ejected from the set. It wasn't until after he was gone that the crew realized who he was. None of them could believe he'd gotten by without being recognized. One wonders about the footage...unless he smuggled his own cameraman in with him, he'll have to prevail upon NBC to give him the footage of his antics.

So what does this film involve? Well, there are a couple of bona fide porn stars in the cast, who Cohen had to hire after ordinary actors wouldn't do the level of nudity he required. The plotline seems to revolve around Bruno and his boyfriend Diesel adopting an African baby, which arrived by air in a cardboard box. They split up, Bruno loses custody and attempts to regain it by proving how straight he is, and eventually winds up in a cage match with Diesel where they fight to the near-death before graphically and passionately reconciling in front of a shocked audience. This scene was another subject for the Smoking Gun, who dug up fliers enticing audience members in Arkansas to a cage match event promising "hot chicks" and "hardcore fights." TSG reported that the event ended with two "male wrestlers" tearing off each other's clothes then kissing and making out, to the derision of the crowd. According to these rumors, that may have been Cohen and whoever is playing his boyfriend.

Along the way, Bruno will cut his swath across America, exposing us for the assholes we are, most of the time. As far as the director and the writer and the other actor, well, who cares? For his movies, Cohen is the only creative force that matters. There's supposedly a boyfriend for Bruno in this film but I find no listing for such a character on the film's IMDB page. So many of his co-stars aren't actors but regular people that Cohen's voice is really the only one. I can't imagine what director Larry Charles had to do except make sure the cameras were turned on.

Then, the MPAA got to see it, and all hell broke loose. Just like "Borat," "Bruno" was first given an NC-17 rating, unsurprisingly, and probably as Cohen intended. It's a negotiation, so that Cohen can still push the envelope with his film while appeasing the MPAA by taking out the parts they found most objectionable. This is not his first time at the rodeo. And what parts did they find objectionable? Apparently a scene of Bruno having sex with another man was a tad too graphic for them, as was a scene where Bruno sneaks nude into an unsuspecting man's tent. After a second edit, the film was upgraded (downgraded?) to an R rating, but if you think that quells the controversy, you're crazy. Cohen is pushing the religion button in this film for sure, and not just by ridiculing Prop 8 and poking fun at Wichita preachers. He's got a character in the film named Jesus, a black man with a loincloth and a crown of thorns. Not sure where that fits in with the whole plot, but apparently people who saw preview screenings are advising flak jackets. Not that it takes much to earn the ire of the religious right these days.

So, will the film succeed? Probably. It's got a much better release date than it originally had (for now, although nothing's ever set in stone until the film opens). People who are fans of Cohen are really fans of Cohen, and people who aren't really aren't. Any fan of his will flock to see this, but I'm not sure it will pull in new people who don't already love the guy. Controversy is usually good for a film's box office, so it remains to be seen how much rending of garments is done over the content of this film.

In Conclusion: Sacha Baron Cohen may have balls of solid steel, but how far is too far? At least you know what you're in for, or so you think, but he'd be just the guy to want to shock even those who think they're prepared. This may be the film vehicle to do it, with a whole slate of guerrilla-comedy pranks already in the press and doubtless others that went unnoticed, "Bruno" should appeal to Cohenites. How it fares will spell out the direction of his career from here forward, though. The problem with his films is that once they're out, he has to retire the character once it becomes too recognizable. Let's hope for his sake that this one makes it worth his while.

Similar Titles: Borat, Da Ali G Show - Da Compleet Seereez
July 10th, 2009 (wide)
November 17th, 2009 (DVD)

Universal Pictures

Larry Charles

Sacha Baron Cohen, Alice Evans, Trishelle Cannatella, Sandra Seeling, Ben Youcef

Total: 65 vote(s).


Click here to view site

Rated R for pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language.

83 min





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