Review: Bruno
Sacha Baron Cohen has balls. And he also has great comedic abilities, though sadly only the former are on display during Bruno his follow up to 2006's smash hit, the infinitely superior Borat. Baron Cohen is a brilliant comedian"”he has great timing, he's great on his feet, and he has the aforementioned chutzpah to go after his subjects no matter how uncomfortable the situation. He also stays in character no matter how far over the line the situation gets, as evidenced in a moment when he is getting mercilessly flogged by a topless swinger.

So with all of those comedic skills at his disposal, how did Bruno fail so epically? Firstly, it is a complete rehash of Borat, from the foreigner coming to America, to the inevitable rock bottom and finally to a revelation that leads to happiness. This alone is not an issue however, as I would not have noticed these similarities if I had been laughing. Secondly, where Borat went after a variety of targets, Bruno mostly focuses on the easy marks"”a gay converter, a group of rednecks, and of course, the military. While I love to see bigoted, closed minded conservatives humiliated as much as the next bleeding heart liberal, what I was looking for in this movie was not a feeling of moral superiority (which I already possess) but a few laughs. Every barb Cohen throws can be seen from miles away, because every one of the people he's after has already been lampooned previously, and usually much better.

I also am woe to call the movie over-the-top. I'm the guy who thought the naked wrestling of Borat was the funniest thing since Team America's minutes long puppet sex scene, yet Bruno's antics seem engineered simply for shock value, and that doesn't play out as humorous, mostly just unwarranted. Bruno as a character seems hopelessly trapped in a Teutonic view of homosexuality that has been satirized and dispensed with years ago, and so although he undertakes this stereotype to satirize people who actually believe homosexuals act in this way, it all feels very done.

I have great respect for Sacha Baron Cohen and I find him hilarious in most things. And when this movie made me laugh, it was only due to the exuberance with which he played his character and his commitment to staying in the moment, regardless of how ridiculous the gag. So I feel a bit like I did when I walked out of The Love Guru: I'm left wondering how a comedian I so greatly respect could waste years of his life making a movie that would only make me feel like I'd wasted hours of mine.

Grade: C-
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