Friday 10 July 2009

Review: Bruno

Year: 2009
Director: Larry Charles
Screenplay: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer, Jeff Schaffer
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen

In 2005 Sacha Baron Cohen unleashed Borat onto the world and it paid off....big time. Critically adored and bring in £200+ million (on a budget of £18m), Borat was a whirlwind of offense and hilarity that made Cohen a star on both sides of the Atlantic pond. When watching it I found the films satire to be incredibly biting as well as laugh out loud funny, with Cohen using a wonderful mixture of wordplay, physical comedy and intelligence to askew America's troubled views on Race, Sexuality and religion amongst other things. Sure the target was a bit broad, but the timing was spot on.

Four years on and Cohen has decided to launch another of his comic creations on to the world. This time we are given Bruno, a gay fashion presenter who wishes to become famous. Many could be wondering why the hell would this (fictional) character want to be famous in this day and age? But that's somewhat the point as Cohen has set one of his targets on the evils of celebrity. However his biggest target in the movie of course is America's views on homosexuality.

If you didn't like Borat I cannot and will not recommend this to you, as this is more of the same. I you really enjoyed Borat as much as myself, I will recommended it to you with a warning: The blades are not as sharp as before. This however, doesn't stop Bruno from being the funniest movie of this year for me. Bruno reeks of been there done that but Cohen is still fantastic at bringing out the worst in people. By playing these characters as dumb and navie, the unknowing fall guys do their best to project their own supority upon them, and it still works well even after Borat.

It's a shame however, that Bruno at times is more about shock value rather than the subverse moments that made Borat so great. A prime example of this is an ill fated trip to the middle east in which Bruno tries to make peace with the opposing forces. The scenes don't ring true and try too hard to be controversial. Cohen's movies work best when he makes simple actions that bring about the darker side of human nature. Case in point a cage match with Bruno as "Straight Dave". Cohen manages to drive these people into an anti-homosexual frenzy that only the most backward people who be proud of, only to break their hearts by showing Straight Dave being as gay as a window. To see an large man distraught because his own hate is not reciprocated is very amusing. Although I stil find an extremely pissed off Harrison Ford to be one of the best moments of the movie.

So I find it funnier than The Hangover? Yes because despite being more of the same, Bruno goes deeper than simple frat humor. Cohen shows that he's still an amazing physical comedian and is still willing to push the barriers of good taste for a good laugh. Praise also goes out to director Larry Charles who work together to craft some unbelievably cringe worthy moments. Cohen may be the comedian but sometimes Charles' choice of shots are pure gold. But the real stars of the show are of course the real people who litter the film. Bruno goes off the boil in its staged moments (and after watching Borat you know exactly what is set up and what isn't), but when it isn' couldn't make it up.

Despite showing a little wear and tear, I found Bruno to be a amusing waste of 80 mins. Cohen will not convert any haters of his previous works but those who enjoyed him before should not be disappointing.

Listen to my podcast review here