Equally offending Bruno
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is the military status quo on homosexuality. For Austrian Bruno (Sacha Baron-Cohen), the equation would be, just look, you WILL know.
Understatedly “Bruno” blatantly sputters as a ‘mockumentary’ seeking to derive laughter by intertwining celebrity culture, the gay lifestyle and homophobic prejudice. It’s a mixed, offensive result. Will you chuckle or walk out?
As to the premise, Bruno’s flamboyant, “in” fashions, “A” list model interview show plunges off the air following an all Velcro runway disaster, not from ditzy how do you walk in those shoes questions (you first go left, then right, then it’s “scariest” when you “turn”).
Undeterred, blatantly narcissistic Bruno flies to Los Angeles believing a combination of fashion and gayness will make him the biggest Austrian superstar since Hitler and biggest gay star since Arnold!
Bordering on the dreaded NC-17 rating, Bruno likely won the strong R due to the campy overkill of his offensive bits, whether it’s sexual orientation, politics, religion, morals, child raising, and practices to which I can in print only refer to with initials. Strategic blurs and shifting black boxes blot up close nudity; still, you are warned, clothes that come on and then off mostly from a distance will have you hooting at the dirty jokes or (as I hinted beforehand) walking out demanding a refund.
While the flick’s first half does the over-the-top “gay” things, the second portion sends Bruno in search of a “cure” for his sexual orientation and in the spirit of becoming heterosexual mocks macho homophobic lifestyles. Although his therapy with a hell fire and damnation preacher delivers consistent one-liners, the circumstances into which Bruno next step have very predictable outcomes (otherwise he’d be found beat to a pulp and tied to a tree).
Along the odyssey, Bruno’s parody of celebrities’ supporting your favorite charity PR and the briskness at how “you’re hired” alters attitudes that the person is not such a creep/jerk/bum/bitch/diva after all.
Sorry, smirky smiles or not, “Bruno” is a ragged, uneven outing founded on would be ‘fish out of water’ pink elephant roots that stay stuck at the peanut snack stand, instead of inducing wringing belly laughs from the square peg/round hole premise. Filmmakers never overcome the challenge of smoothly merging an absurdly ‘out’ orientation and its connection to superstars, celebrities, divas and artsy types.
Laboring, struggling and stretching for comedy, “Bruno” is no “Borat. It’s a film you will love or hate. Think “Borat” meets Judd Apatow situations and inspirations, including a cute, I can’t name it, candidate for co-star (or puppet) performance of the year.
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