Borat was so 2006? Brüno (from and with Sacha Baron Cohen), who was formerly wearing a dyed Mohawk, raises hell on catwalks and in army camps, exposes American double standards and provokes with genital humour. Funny? Definitely! But still Borat was so much better!
Brüno (Sacha Baron Cohen) lives in the Austrian capitol Vienna. He is 19, gaudily gay and he wants to be a big star like Schwarzenegger or Hitler. Furthermore he is the thriving host of the TV show 'Funkyzeit mit Brüno', the most famous fashion magazine in the German-speaking countries except Germany.
With a tiny fashion accident at the Milano Fashion Week Brüno blows it with the entire fashion world. Brüno goes to America to make a fresh start, because his whole crew has abandoned him. Only the terribly dressed bore Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten), assistant of Brüno's former assistant, accompanies him to the US of A and supports him energetically.
Brüno auditions to an agent who only manages to get him a job as an extra due to Brüno's lack of talent. Brüno dabbles at a new TV show, but even his efforts to bring about peace and understanding to the Middle East don't bring the fame he is looking for.
After a sex accident with Lutz, Brüno splits up with him, for he realizes that he can only be a star when he gets cured of his homosexuality and converts to a heterosexual lifestyle. But to eradicate his camp behaviour is actually not that easy.
Three years after "Borat" British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen bestows on us a new mockumentary, a fictitious satire dressed as a documentary—a not so new genre, by the way. Everybody who has seen "Borat" knows what to expect of "Brüno". At the beginning of this project it wasn't clear, though, whether the Oscar-nominated Baron Cohen would be able to pull it off again with the third and last character of his "Da Ali G Show" and to hoodwink celebrities and ordinary mortals once again.
The 37-year-old Baron Cohen, who plays the 19-year-old Brüno, was so convincing however that presidential candidate Ron Paul, singer La Toya Jackson (unfortunately cut in the short term after the death of Michael Jackson, King of Pop, but hopefully it will be seen on DVD), singer and juror of American Idol Paula Abdul and the former Mossad agent Jossi Alpher fell for his tricks. Even Madonna and Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) get their just deserts for their adoption obsessions, when Brüno turns up at a talk show with his African 'Gayby' O.J. Even a Palestinian terrorist in the flesh gets visited by Brüno.
As in "Borat" Baron Cohen utilizes highly exaggerated stereotypes in "Brüno" in order to provoke extreme reactions and to uncover prejudices. Of course there is slapstick involved, too, and that is why one could accuse Baron Cohen of playing his guerrilla pranks on the expense of gay men, who are seemingly reduced to dildos. If the homophobia and bigotry that he brings to light justify all of this, is questionable and will be the topic of many a discussion.
In contrast to "Borat" far more situations seem to be staged. Especially in the quite private moments in the swingers club, the army camp or at the meeting with Ron Paul, the hand-held camera is so manifest that the spectator wonders why the supposedly unknowing people don't interact with the cinematographer. Attendants at the cage fighting profess that chairs and other stuff was thrown by paid actors.
Does that do harm to the movie? Surely not. In the category length the hilarious film is fined by one star, because it might well have been a bit longer. But what leaves a bad aftertaste or growing doubt about "Brüno"—despite the many good laughs—is the fact that Baron Cohen approaches his subjects more aggressively and forcedly. In the end many reactions to Brüno's—ingenious or merely genital?—confrontations are indeed impressive, but vastly more predictable and somehow less spectacular than in "Borat". "Brüno" has its charms, but "Borat" was definitely the better movie.