July 15, 2009 > Movie Review: Bruno
Movie Review: Bruno
By Susana Nunez
After much hype and anticipation, Sacha Baron Cohen's follow-up to the hilarious Borat has finally hit theaters. However, the film sadly fails to live up to its predecessor. This isn't to say that the film isn't funny; it just lacks the storyline and originality of Borat. Cohen relies too heavily on intense sexual humor, and each of the many graphic scenes becomes boring and predictable. Even if you're accustomed to the crudeness of his characters, there's no build-up to the scenes; within the first 10 minutes, Bruno is already showing audiences his love of sex. We understand he's a flamboyantly gay character, but Cohen made too much of a spectacle of his sex drive.
Like Borat, the character of Bruno originated in Da Ali G Show. In the show (as in the film) Bruno is the fashion-obsessed host of a gay Austrian television show called Funkyzeit. He interviews people in the fashion industry, asking them ridiculous questions with the purpose of exposing the superficial and sometimes absurd elements of people in the fashion world. These are by far the funniest bits of his segment on the Ali G show. The film doesn't use these much, and instead we see Cohen traveling America with the purpose of becoming famous. He pulls a Madonna/ Angelina by adopting an African baby and even tries to seduce former presidential candidate Ron Paul with the purpose of releasing an explicit tape. His stunts are entertaining to watch, but Bruno simply lacks the clueless lovability of Borat. Even though Borat was crude and not in the least bit politically correct, he had heart, and audiences couldn't resist him.
Simply put, Cohen got lazy and oversexed the character, relying on easy graphic humor that lagged and didn't have a purpose. Borat had a purpose, and every stunt affected the main storyline, whereas Bruno just pushed the envelope for the sake of getting a rise out of people. Both characters want to get a reaction from their unsuspecting victims, but Bruno reuses the same tricks too often.
Cohen could have made more of an effort with the character, but in his defense, it must have been quite difficult to host interviews after the success of Borat. Even though Bruno is an entirely different character, after Borat, people in general became aware of Da Ali G Show, and subsequently of the character of Bruno. Still, Cohen was aware of this when he decided to do Bruno the film, and he could've gotten more creative. Granted, he took some risks when filming, where as a viewer you become so concerned with his safety that it distracts from the humor. Bruno could have easily been the next Borat, but instead it just tried too hard to be risqu, and makes its mark as the subpar follow-up.