Here’s the thing about Sacha Baron Cohen, no matter which eccentric character of his he’s playing, he only gets one single take at each scene. One shot to make the trick work. You can’t reshoot a prank, you can’t get those genuine, appalled reactions from the gullible participants more than once. And this is why, despite whether or not you find him funny, Baron Cohen is the funniest, most respected comedian in movies today.
Brüno is just as outrageous as you’ve heard. Instead of a racist, anti-Semitic, Kazak journalist, we now get the extremely gay, tight-clothed, Austrian fashionista, Brüno. Brüno, much like Borat, is so idiotically lewd with his comments and actions, that he doesn’t even bother caring who he offends. It’s his clueless remorselessness that makes him hysterical.
The plot structure for the film is very similar to Borat. Brüno gets excommunicated from the fashion world in his native Austria, only to scurry to America with one goal, to become famous. But who cares about the plot, you came for the gags, right? Have no fear, Baron Cohen and Borat director Larry Charles go way beyond what you may be thinking, so far that I’m stunned as to how this film got an R rating.
Which brings me to a good point. If you are sexually conservative in any way whatsoever, then save your money and skip this film. Even the most hip, liberal minds will have dropped jaws in several scenes. Scenes that I will not ruin here. The fun of these films is shocking you into what you never see coming, so I’ll let you unravel them yourself.
For me, the gags aren’t what make Baron Cohen’s films memorable. I sincerely thought Borat did a great job of exposing racism, prejudice, and sexism in middle America. Likewise, I think Brüno does a great job of unveiling America’s obsession with fame, not to mention their general homophobia. A scene involving mothers auditioning their babies for a photoshoot is by far the most disgusting thing in the film. In another, I watched in horror to a crowd’s reaction of two men making out in cage-fighting exhibition. We they duped? Sure. But does that justify their reaction? God no.
Bottom line: is Brüno better than Borat? No. Is Brüno cruder? Yes. Do they both fulfill their jobs of discovering hidden prejudices in our apparent “post-racial” nation. You bet. B+