Movie News & Reviews

'Bruno' is vulgar, anarchistic, aggressive -- and funny

No matter how many times I yell at my kitten that he looks like adonut with whiskers, I haven't yet seen him jump on the Soloflex.

That's because some things are virtually invulnerable to criticism. Ican tell my girlfriend that she needs to pick after herself until I'm bluein the face, but that's not going to undo the stroke. If our lastPresident had a penny for every time he ignored someone who suggestedhe do something different, then we'd all be little puddles of bloodbeneath 40 feet of solid copper, so thank heavens he stayed thecourse.

-- Times, theaters, trailer.

-- Read Mr. Movie's review.

Certain works of art and entertainment work that way, too, especiallythe ones that walk the thin line between moronic and inspired. That'swhen objectivity goes out the window. You could fault Sacha BaronCohen's Bruno for being "crude," but is that really a valuejudgment? That's more like saying "I am not an aficionado of dildojokes." So what do us professionals do when faced with a movie that,in many ways, is beyond good and bad? Sneakily mention our girlfriendsso no one will get the wrong idea when we come out in favor of a moviefull of the gays.

After causing a scene at a fashion show, Cohen's alter ego Bruno isblackballed from the fashion world and kicked off his show.

Cut off from everything he knows, he decides to go to L.A. to become acelebrity, taking with him assistant Gustaf Hammarsten and acustomized exercise bike. After Cohen's first gigs don't go down sowell, he turns to increasingly desperate measures to achieve his fame.

Like Cohen's Borat, Bruno features a fake characterinteracting with real people who aren't aware they're being put on.The point isn't immediately obvious: to mess with people for the lulz?To push people past their boundaries (Cohen plays a ragingly gay man)and expose America's dirty underbelly of homophobia? Or to at longlast supply us with the hypnotic footage of spinning male memberswe've all been demanding?

Then again, there's already a Web site devoted to that (don'tpretend you don't already know that), so I'm guessing Bruno'sshooting for comedic social commentary. Whatever the case, we can ruleout story -- the plot is as episodic and disconnected as storytime withgrampaw, with only slightly more nudity.

But that's okay, because by and large the bits that make the whole arefunny as hell, which if you've never been there is pretty much thefunniest place on Earth. Comedians are terrible sinners, you see. Soif tasteless, transgressive, smutty humor isn't your thing, becomforted by the fact Cohen will some day get his infernal reward.

This style of embarrassment-based comedy has been the thing for a whilenow, but you can't accuse Cohen and director Larry Charles of doingthe same-ol' same-ol' when at one point Cohen actively lobbiesterrorists to kidnap him and insults their leader to his aggrievedface. See, it's not all dick jokes.

The satirical angle's more of a mixed bag. Bruno assaultshomophobia and the superficiality of celebrity with a blunderbussrather than a scalpel, resulting in a lot of noise and some awesomesocial explosions without landing any mortal wounds. When you'rerolling documentary-style, you've got to take what the footage givesyou, but with a character this deliberately provocative, it's somethingof a missed opportunity.

Still, any time a movie's making you laugh this much it's doingsomething right. Vulgar, anarchistic, aggressive -- does that sound toyou like praise or the kind of thing that would make you so disgustedyou'd lie in wait for the theater manager, jump out gibbering with abaseball bat, then politely invite him to dinner so you could discussthe definition of "entertainment"?

Make your choice based on that.

Grade: B

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