Friday, July 10, 2009
After a tremendous amount of publicity campaign (remember bare buttocks falling on Eminem's face and nude photos on GQ?), Sacha Baron Cohen, the star from the outrageously hilarious "Borat,", finally meets the audience on a big screen in director Larry Charles's new satire comedy "Brüno" (USA 2009 | 83 min.). Unfortunately, similar like those promotional campaigns, the film is more shocking than funny. It's a big disappointment compared to "Borat."
Sacha Baron Cohen plays his new character Brüno, a gay fashion journalist from Austria who is banned from the fashion world due to his mischief. He decides to move to Hollywood to become a celebrity, and gets rid of his gayness which he blames to be the cause of his failure. He tries to create his own talk shows, sets up humiliating interviews with celebrities, adopts a black baby, and stages gay bashing gatherings only to shock the homophobic crowd by his exaggerated gay acts.
However, most of these events (and many more) are just to set up pranks for the audience—if you think you have seen them all, here comes another one. These pranks appear more shocking than entertaining, more offensive than funny, and more juvenile than intelligent.
The film takes equal opportunity to offend just about every group: gay, straight, women, Asian, black, Latino, celebrities, and politicians. For a satire film, that's not necessarily a bad thing. What makes these offensive acts remain a tasteless shocker is that they are simply just a shocker, but not funny.
For example, the sex scenes of Brüno with his small framed Asian bottom boyfriend (can it be even more stereotype than that?) are cheap shots to beg for a few chuckles. The scene in which Brüno seduces Presidential candidate Ron Paul is simply weird and puzzling than anything else. Certainly not funny.
Director Larry Charles is brilliant at setting up stages to let unknown participants to create comic moments. His previous films such as "Borat" and "Religulous" are smart and hilarious. However, none of those qualities repeat in this new shocker "Brüno."
Sacha Baron Cohen is courageous to take up this role and to push the limit beyond boundaries. I cannot think of any other actor who might be willing to perform as he does in this film, even what he is shaking might not be his own penis in this film—and the fact that this film gets an R rating is the last shocker if there are not enough shockers in the film already.