Sacha Baron Cohen is an actor people either love or hate. The same can be said for the actor's first film, Borat, which swept the nation and stirred up quite a bit of controversy. Many said his latest film would fail due to his using the same gimmicks at his previous film, only with a different character. The new character and film, Bruno, does definitely reuse quite a bit of what made Borat great, but infuses it with a more current topic.
Bruno (Cohen) is an Austrian model and television host who is fired from his job and cast out of the A-list. In his attempts to become world famous in America he will adopt an African American child, try to craft a sex tape with former presidential candidate Ron Paul, and try to become a heterosexual by hanging out in the America's heartland. All the while Bruno exposes people's political and spiritual beliefs, making the audience question whether the participants are crazy or insightful.
In my opinion Borat was a hilarious film that showed how Americans treated foreign visitors to our country. While Cohen had a tendency to resort to some gross gimmicks to get his point across, the message came across strong and was a conversation starter, Bruno is more of the same. In this film Cohen focuses on the concept of celebrity in our culture, as well as exposing the thoughts on homosexuality that run rampant in our country. Depending on your political and/or religious beliefs Cohen will either be seen as a genius or a biased jerk, but all the same he makes everything hilarious no matter what you feel about the issues. A particular scene showing stage parents and the extravagant lengths they'll go to in order to get their kids into a commercial isn't much of a hot button issue but it's funny and disturbing to watch parents openly willing to give their 3-year-old's liposuction. Bruno also takes quite a few potshots at supermodels and celebrities. Featuring cameos by Brittny Gastineau and Paula Abdul, the film openly shows how vapid and shallow Hollywood can be and that celebrity “causes” are easily corrupted. The last half of Bruno is where the majority of the controversy comes from as he visits a swinger's party, a gay “converter,” and engages in a makeout session in an Arkansas wrestling match. Each of these vignettes has something that should appeal to those who enjoy watching adults make fools of themselves.
As much as I wanted to love Bruno the film just felt hollow. At only 90 minutes when it ended there was no buildup or closure, the film just ended. The big issue is that Cohen really reuses the major plot points from Borat. His character is introduced, he makes fun of people in an attempt to prove a point, he returns to the narrative, more funny people and then the narrative ends. If you've seen Borat this film simply puts an Austrian in his place. Although where the previous film didn't focus so much on the main plot, this movie spends a lot of time on the narrative of Bruno and his rollercoaster relationship with his assistant. It leads to a lot of laughs but it becomes really overused and boring. The movie also notches up the shock factor. If you don't like copious amounts of female and male nudity (there is an extended sequence focusing on a certain male appendage that goes on for about 2 minutes), then this certainty isn't for you. While all the sex is blurred out it makes no sense when they don't censor the individual nudity. This wouldn't be a big issue but Cohen really throws out all the most disturbing sexual predilections he can and after awhile it seems to be overkill. The movie is just hyper everything and it seems that Cohen really tried to ramp everything up, creating a shambles in the process. It doesn't help that the last half of the movie focuses on homosexuality while the first half is made up of vignettes of different things that don't really get as much focus.
In terms of acting there isn't much. Cohen plays the same character as the last film and doesn't stretch at all. Hopefully he'll do some more comedy or something like Sweeney Todd to prove he's an actor because I think these types of films are just about over for him. The assistant is great but again no real experience required.
If you enjoyed Borat then definitely check out Bruno. The humor and plot is the same, just don't expect any major stretches in development. I give the movie a 2.5/5.