© Universal Pictures International Germany GmbH

U.S.A. 2009

Opening 9 Jul 2009

Directed by: Larry Charles
Writing credits: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer, Jeff Schaffer, Peter Baynham
Principal actors: Sacha Baron Cohen, Gustaf Hammarsten, Clifford Bañagale, Chibundu Orukwowu, Chigozie Orukwowu

Essentially the same format as its predecessor Borat from 2006, Sacha Baron Cohen’s Brüno serves up raunchy political incorrectness on an über-gay platter. This time around, Cohen portrays schminked-out Austrian fashion commentator Brüno, recently fired from his avant-garde show, Funkyzeit, due to a costume mishap involving a Velcro jumpsuit. Out of work and banned from the fashion scene, he immigrates to America to become "the most famous Austrian since Hitler." His journey from Hollywood to the heart of the USA includes Jerry Springer-esque talk shows, Deep South hunting parties and of course a trip to the anal bleaching parlor. Each optimistic attempt for fame lands Brüno deeper in the gutter, as does the level of humor. Ladies who lunch, beware!

Of the many parallels between Borat and Brüno, Cohen manages to portray both of these characters with cultural naiveté, blunt challenges to American values through outlandish antics, extreme physical humor that exceeds most sensitivities, and an endearing “inner child” that excuses his many rude yet astute observations. Instead of bringing out the pitchforks, we end up laughing at and with him simultaneously. Cohen loves to “do” hotel room scenes, taunt semi-celebrities, bait politicians and poke evangelists with a reality stick, and we love him for doing so. While Borat lampoons third world foreigners by simply being Borat and Brüno oozes gayness while celebrating sluttiness, neither suffer like the real target of these films – the unsuspecting American public.

If Brüno oversteps any homosexual boundaries, it perhaps would only be the comfort line of his (adolescent) male core audience. That being said, he sidesteps some serious issues by supplying plenty of diversionary slapstick dildos, costumes, pantomimes, pygmy partners and bondage equipment, all maxed out to seem ridiculous rather than realistic.

Brüno will especially tickle the funny bone of many bilinguists; his Austrian “Denglish” is often un-subtitled and the delectable massacre of both languages offers a whole sideline of giggles for those who can understand both German and English (see it in English for the outrageous accent). Brüno looks exceptionally lovely in full make-up and blond-frosted highlights on his blow-dried hairdo; his wardrobe is a Euro-trash delight and as integral to the story as the Umlaut that adorns the Universal Studio “U”. Leave your halo at home and enjoy Brüno for all the wrong reasons. (Kirstan Böttger)

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