Dir: Larry Charles (Religulous, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan)
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Gustaf Hammarsten
Seen: November 22, 2009 on DVD
Reason to see: Rumblings during theatrical release indicated there was more than meets the eye
There certainly is more than meets the eye during Brüno, but it's in between eye popping and eye covering moments. There is no way possible not to react to this film, it baits the audience just as it baits the people in the film.
Sacha Baron Cohen stars as Brüno, a gay model who sets his sites on becoming a celebrity superstar. In the process of this quest we see him attempt to duplicate celebrity behaviour to pretty hilarious results, although it's often taken to the nth degree making it appear outrageous but at other times it's is not that far from the stories we hear on entertainment programs or talk shows.
The most interesting element of the film is actually showing peoples reactions to Brüno, be it with conversation, suggestive behaviour or introducing an actual scenario. Many of these are outrageous, but some of them are not and seeing where and if people draw the line is fascinating. But the lines are not very clear and get stepped over a lot. Rude or graphic scenarios and imagery people certainly can't seem to handle it. When it moves to the mildly uncomfortable behaviour it starts to brings out the various isms and stronger reactions. Pushing it even further, and Sacha Baron Cohen is a master at pushing the line, but there is a fine line between uncomfortable to what feels threatening. Add that everything is being taped, which for the most part but not always appears to be in plain sight, then it starts to get uncomfortable outside the context of the film as it's not a fair stretch to see how it could negatively impact people involved regarding their public image.
I think the brilliance of the film is that it the appeal is targeted to the shock-comedy crowd, and will certainly appeal to that crowd, but it is also commentary on fame, celebrity and most strongly how people will how their true colours if you provide the opportunity for them to do so. That was the big revelation here, it isn't the crazy outragousness of Brüno and his actions, but rather the completely rude, homophobic, racist, ignorant and dangerous behaviour and actions of the everyday people involved.
DVD Extras include: behind the scenes footage with Sacha Baron Cohen and Larry Charles on how they pulled off the dangerous stunts, as well as deleted, alternative and extended scenes.
Shannon's Overall View:
I laughed a fair amount
I don't imagine I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it to fans of shock comedy
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© Shannon Ridler, 2009