Monday, September 21, 2009

BRUNO - It Sucks Big Time

BRUNO (comedy, viewed on DVD)
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Gustaf Hammarsten, Alice Evans, Trishelle Cannatella, Sandra Seeling, Ben Youcef, Alexander von Roon, Candice Cunningham and Tom Yi
Director: Larry Charles
Time: 81 mins
Rating: * 1/2 (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: After the 2006 jackass comedy that was Borat, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (above) and director Larry Charles figured that they can top it with Bruno, another scatterbrain gutter-comedy that is more of a turn-off than entertainment, and more disgusting than funny. As expected, it tries to push the boundary of offensiveness in movie-making but only manages to break through the borders of utter stupidity.

Where Borat shocked us in terms of comic audacity, Bruno is an exercise in phony buffoonery. It's just as well that it is banned in Malaysia.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? After being thrown out of the fashion world in Austria and sacked from his TV show, fashion reporter Brüno (Cohen) goes to Los Angeles to reinvent himself and become a famous gay star and "the biggest Austrian superstar since Hitler." He is followed to the US by Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten), his ex-assistant's lovestruck assistant.

However, instead of hiking across America to woo Pamela Anderson like Borat, Brüno makes a brief stop in the Middle East as part of a plan to stop the troubles there. Bruno's attempts at acquiring fame includes making a sex tape, adopting an African baby and recording a charity song.

HITS & MISSES: I can take offensive scenes as much as the next guy but most of the sequences and subplots of Bruno are so badly contrived that it appears moronic and phony. Most of them are painful to watch and not even funny. As in Borat, Bruno's pranks are an expose of people's latent prejudices. However, while the previous film got away with this 'dumb-ass' act, Bruno does not. We can accept Borat's naivety because he is from a small village in Kazakhstan. Bruno is from Austria where there should be no excuse for such narcissistic behaviour and infantile mentality.

Still, the comedy works best when it 'attacks' Hollywood celebs like Paula Abdul and Harrison Ford. There was also a footage of La Toya Jackson in the 'Mexicans-as-furniture' scene but it was removed following the death of her brother Michael. Another eye-opener is the segment where parents of toddlers agree to put their kids through all sorts of nonsense in order to get them accepted for Bruno's project.

The rest of the gags, like the talking penis, anal sex and simulated rimming scenes, suck big time.

THE LOWDOWN: From Borat, the creativity-challenged Cohen takes us to Brutally Boring.


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