[MOVIE REVIEW] Brüno: Can You Handle It?

How can you top a foreign “journalist” who comes to America and brings a bag of his own feces to the dinner table of Southern socialites? How about an Austrian “fashionista” who tries to make a sex tape with former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul?

Brüno (Rating: R)
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Gustaf Hammarsten
Directed by Larry Charles

How can you top a foreign “journalist” who comes to America and brings a bag of  his own feces to the dinner table of Southern socialites?  How about an Austrian “fashionista” who tries to make a sex tape with former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul?

So is the saga of Brüno, an exiled Austrian TV personality who attempts to make it in America.  Sacha Baron Cohen takes his character to an unavoidable extreme that is both lovable, incredibly jarring, and, at times, borderline obscene.

The underlying theme is similar to Cohen’s Borat, where the main character, through his travels and interactions with supposedly “every day people,” exposes the dirty underbelly of polite society.  This time the focus is not on race relations, but the insecurities around homosexuality.

And he spares no one. He  “exposes” himself to the homophobia of Alabama huntsman, US servicemen, a talk show audience full of African Americans, and a stadium full of extreme fighting fans.  He even goes to the Middle East to “help” with the peace process, but instead gets chased by Orthodox Jews for wearing skimpy Hasidic garb.

Lutz  (Hammarsten) is Brüno’s loyal assistant/lover, who helps on his quest. Of course, the real attractions are less the made-up characters but the real people they interact with, interview, and otherwise make very, very uncomfortable throughout the movie.  Without giving any spoilers, I found it incredible that Mr. Cohen finished this movie without being seriously injured and/or pressed with charges.

To watch this movie is to engage in a type of mental endurance test of acceptance. How long can you place your heterosexual “hand” over the “flaming” fire before you recoil?  At what point of sexual escalation would you, a grown man, blush and/or look away in embarrassment? That is what Sacha Baron Cohen wants you to experience.  The moral takeaway, if there is one, is to explore our own sexual hypocrisy, no more evident than when Cohen engages a stadium full of people celebrating man on man violence and man on women misogyny, and traumatizes them with a simple (though a bit dramatic) act of man on man love.

So dads, is this a date movie?  Perhaps an easier answer on the coasts (our NY audience ended in applause), but I wonder if the message will be lost to those people who should probably most watch it.  Cohen does little to dispel old gay stereotypes and one feels very sorry for some of the subjects of his “hijack-umentary” filmmaking style.   I thought the taking care of baby jokes fell a little flat and may distract from the rest of the movie, but overall, if you want to laugh,  think a little,  and be taken way out your comfort zone, this is the movie to see.

Your Daddy Time: Wasted of Worth It? Worth it! 3.5/5 Stars

The Worth It/Wasted Rating System is for dads who need to know one thing- Is this movie WORTH IT to:

* Pack up the kids, bags, etc and trek to the theater – or
* Find a babysitter so Dad can have a date night – or
* Cash in brownie points with the Mrs. so he can go with his buddies

If it doesn’t fit these simple criteria, the movie gets the WASTED rating, which means – don’t waste the precious time you have, wait for video/cable when you can squeeze it between chores, work and sleep.

5 thoughts on “[MOVIE REVIEW] Brüno: Can You Handle It?

  1. Well, there’s nothing “ambiguous” about Bruno, and it’s not as campy or hidden behind the “innocence” of a cartoon. There really is no “safe” zone here, like Ron Paul finds out, there is only one way out of this room, and standing in the doorway is a man who just dropped his pants. Whether that makes you laugh or cringe is going to mean the difference of your viewing experience.

  2. I heard that just like Borat, some of the “characters” in this film are attempting to sue Sacha Baron Cohen. We’ll see how that goes, they probably signed a waiver.

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