Bruno (2009) Directed By Larry Charles
Not as funny as "Borat", and some scenes like the Christian gay converter's seem like luke warm deja vu, from Larry Charles other mocku-doc "Religulous", without the shock of the first or the bite of the latter. Sacha Baron Cohen struts around in gay face (mascara?), and ridiculous designer clothes, which scream "please look at me", so at least he's dressed appropriately for his real target, "the cult of celebrity". Sure, Bruno is more flaming than the human torch, and milks it for every moment of awkward homophobia he can get from those unlucky enough (or camera hungry enough), to cross his path, but it's just the butter on the bread. In most scenes Bruno, virulently mocks those with those stars in their eyes, fashion as I heard once said in a song by Harvey Danger, "...is the art of brainwashing the proud", and with every eye catching ensemble he puts in, Bruno is tailored not to express his "alternate" sexuality, but to simply get attention. It's almost irrelevant if the scenes with Ron Paul or Paula Abdul were staged. If they didn't know what they were getting into, than they agreed on pretense that they might be on a small German show for a few more minutes in the spotlight, if they knew they were in a big Hollywood film, than they had even wider demographics to reach out too, all publicity, even bad publicity, is good publicity. Abdul sitting on the Mexican chair people as she pontificates the importance of human rights, is so apt a symbol for American and more specifically Hollywood politics, you could put it on a wall and frame it. Many of the jokes don't go over as well, the talk show/baby OJ scene was played on tv commercials so many times, it lost even the faintest possibility of humor long before the film premiered. Of course for someone like Cohen, who himself made his fortune through shock antics and stereotypes to now bite the hand of public adore that fed him, is definitely the pot calling the kettle black. Yet he did get an Israeli man and a Palestinian man to agree on the nutritional benefits of humus, so he's managed to get further along than most westerner's who make their regular self-congratulatory, heal the world, stop off's to the region. Cohen is a caricature, but you can hardly fault a bawdy comic of his ilk for that, poorly thought out material (the Christian gay-converter's, the hunting trip, etc.) on the other hand is a sin less easily forgiven. Bruno never really feels like he's on a mission. Borat wanted to learn about America and stuff Pamela Anderson into a burlap sack, while Bruno is trying on one scatterbrain attempt at making it big after another that fly by often too fast to capture the nervous energy that makes this type of film so entertaining. Maybe if the film had delved further into one it's targets, homophobia, or celebrity worship, or the commercialization of politics, it might have resonated stronger, instead they kind of watered each other down, into a series of funny to bland to redundant (and occasionally hilarious) vignettes. It's hard not to laugh at some of his antics (very hard), but others begin to wreak of desperation, as if Cohen himself, like so many he mocks, is clinging to the last few seconds of his own 15 minutes of fame. Only his next film, now that he's out of Ali-G show stock characters, will tell.