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Brüno (2009)

by on 2012/12/16

bruno_2009“Looking up at the stars makes me think of all the hot guys in the world.”

* * * *

I am very fond of Sasha Baron Cohen.

In fact, it is safe to say that is very fond of Sasha Baron Cohen.

He is like a good friend who is too funny and smart for his own good. He’s the friend who is so smart and funny that you are often worried that he’s going to go out and get himself killed.

I got hooked on Mr. Baron Cohen’s unique brand of life-and-limb-threatening satire while watching his astounding Ali G television show. Hacker Renders and I quote his epic “Techmology” interview at least fortnightly.

He is uniquely gifted in his ability to create a persona so idiotic that this idiocy intensifies and draws out the idiocy of others. It is like homeopathy.

Except that it works.

The magic is in his characters’ encounters with reality. Real people, real celebrities and political figures reveal some essential truths about themselves and our vapid, bigoted and classist society. We get to see this all because of these folks’ decided to be interviewed by Sasha Baron Cohen’s alter egos.

He’s created the immortal track suited junglist Ali G, now sadly retired;  Borat, the Kazakh journalist, is also sadly shelved; and finally Brüno, the flamboyant Austrian fashion victim. Each had reached a cultural saturation point, eliminating the pool of ignorant dupes in politics, entertainment and fraternities who would consent to and participate in his hilarious interviews.

Which is a drag.

Like the comedy contained in Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic  Brüno needs to be consumed only by those with a post-graduate degrees and elevated levels of irony running through their blood streams. Like his other characters, Brüno has surgically precise way of cutting through the pretense, and uncovering the prejudice that lies within. But if you take it all on face value, you only see an appalling campy stereotype.

I wish I could say I felt sorry for the awful, awful, awful people Austrian infotainment reporter Brüno encounters during his American debut, ostensibly the plot of this 2009 movie, but I don’t.

There’s the awful stage mothers selling their own children for a buck. “We have chosen your baby to be dressed as a Nazi Officer, pushing a wheelbarrow with a Jewish baby into an oven!”

Then there’s hateful Pastor Jody Trautwein who purports to “cure” homosexuality through prayer and his own brand of conversion therapy. “These-these lips were made to praise Jesus.”

The truly scary Abu Aita, the terrorist group leader, provided one of the film’s many moments when I thought Sasha Baron Cohen might be hurt or killed. “Can I give you guys a word of advice? Lose the beards, because your King Osama looks like a kind of dirty wizard… or a homeless Santa.”

The scene where Paula Abdul plants herself down on the back of a Hispanic man – because a reporter asked her to – is just about as incisive a commentary of the vacant, entitled celebrity culture as you are likely to see.

Brüno reveals that there are people in the U.S. who would rather put a metal chair through a person’s skull than allow two men to kiss.

Brüno tells us we have an awfully long way to do in the fight for basic human rights for the LGBT community.

Love Sasha Baron Cohen or hate him (I love him), you have to admit he’ll go to hell and back just to hack his way to some kind of truth.

Thank you. Now just don’t get yourself killed.

* * *

81 minutes

Rated R for pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity, language and anal bleaching

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