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Sacha Baron Cohen,
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Brüno is a gay Austrian fashion guru. He has his own fashion based television show, Funkyzeit, the most popular German-language show of its kind outside of Germany. After he disgraces himself in front of his Funkyzeit fan base, he is ruined in German speaking Europe. He decides that in his quest for worldwide fame, he will move to Los Angeles and reinvent himself. Accompanying him to the US is Lutz, his former assistant's assistant. Lutz is the only person left in his circle that still believes in Brüno's greatness. Brüno goes through one reinvention of himself after another, ultimately straying to areas far removed from his own self. Perhaps when Brüno finds an activity that he truly does love, he will also find that über-fame he so desperately desires. Written by
Satire has been defined as stretching a position to its logical conclusion in order to expose its absurdity, for example, Jonathan Swift suggesting that the starving Irish should show initiative by fattening up their children and selling them to well-to-do families as food. The brilliant satirist Sacha Baron Cohen in Larry Charles' Bruno takes the story of a Gay Austrian fashionista seeking to become a celebrity in the U.S. and stretches it to its logical conclusion and then extends it - way beyond. It is often hard to tell if the film is an exposé of the debasement of our culture or just another of example of it.
In the film, a sequel to the 2006 mega-hit Borat, Bruno comes to Los Angles to become host of his own A-List Celebrity Max Out after being fired from his job as a TV host of the Austrian show Funkyzeit and being "schwartz-listed". Needless to say, it maxes out after the first viewing thanks to an abortive interview with Paula Abdul and Harrison Ford. Not letting a temporary setback stand in his way, Bruno hires an assistant named Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten), and travels far and wide in an elusive search for the American Dream known as fame and fortune. In his stunts and misadventures (mostly in the South and Southwest), he exposes the raw prejudices that exist against gays and the sickening cult of celebrity that grips us as a nation.
The funniest scenes are at a swinger's party, on a Dallas talk show, at a gay "deprogramming" session, during a visit to a psychic where Bruno mimes oral sex, and the spectacle of a drunken crowd stirred up by "scared straight" Bruno bashing gays in a fight-club arena. Seeking to become recognized world wide, Bruno travels to the Middle East to try and bring the Arabs and the Israeli's together but confuses Hamas with Hummus and the only thing they can agree on is that it is good with pita bread. In another sequence, he goes to Africa to swap his iPod for a little black child named OJ which he uses to crash American talk shows. Baron Cohen, who wrote the script with Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer and Jeff Schaffer saves his heavy artillery for narrow mindedness of every stripe.
The film ridicules all it comes in contact with, sparing nothing and nobody - from exhibitionist gays to up-tight straights, to families who will starve their children for a modeling gig. Some sequences hit their targets, others do not. If you are looking for good taste, you will not find it here. While satire in film is not supposed to be a comfortable experience and is supposed to make you squirm and even at times hide your eyes, it is not supposed to make you want to walk out.
Bruno travels a thin line between what's merely outlandish and what is revolting and its in your face shamelessness comes awfully close to defeating its own purpose. The fact that the Cambridge-educated Cohen is ultimately able to pull it off, however, and make it entertaining is a tribute to his courage and originality. While Bruno can be shocking and very disturbing, it is also a mirror for us to look at ourselves. Like the est training of the 1970s that was often confrontational, we may not like what we see but we can use it to grow from the experience.
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