Mr. Movie

'Brüno' comes off as overwhelmingly tasteless

My review of Brüno contains spoilers.

To include them goes against principles I have practiced since becoming a critic 18 years ago. Sacha Baron Cohen’s film has just one purpose.

It is to hurt people and to offend.

The exception to my rule is deserved.

-- Read The Critic of Pure Reason's review.

In his second feature-length flick Cohen (Borat: Cultural Leanings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) pretends to be Brüno, a homosexual Austrian wanna-be celebrity willing to do anything to become famous.

Put a triple exclamation point after the word “anything.” That includes demonstrations of what some consider offensive sexual practices, or at the very least are practices that should be left behind closed doors. Male and female nudity are displayed in ways that also could be considered distasteful.

Cohen is a force of nature. He’s unrelenting, unstoppable and — sadly for someone with so much comic potential — unbearable. Cohen is Candid Camera on steroids. His films are quasi-documentaries where he, akin to controversial documentarian Michael Moore, carefully picks innocent victims, pushes his way into their lives, places them in embarrassing no-win situations and then goes for the jugular.

As he did in Borat, Cohen has the most “fun” picking on unsuspecting celebrities. Cohen goes after Harrison Ford who blows him off beautifully, American Idol’s clueless and gullible Paula Abdul, and politician/former Presidential candidate Ron Paul who gets justifiably angry when he is victim of the most vicious prank of all.

Brüno pokes fun of gays, gay sex, heterosexual swingers and ultimate fight fans. Satirizing Madonna, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and other celebrities, Cohen upsets African-Americans when he claims to have traded an iPod for an African baby, gives the boy the provocative name “Gayby” and then brags about it to an African-American audience on a TV talk show.

Brüno crashes and ruins fashion shows, attacks and belittles fundamentalist Christians, Jews and Muslims and — no kidding — an Islamic terrorist.

Whether the guy is really a terrorist isn’t as important. Real or not, the Middle East segment is going to piss off some very dangerous people. After Borat, Cohen reportedly got death threats from some he upset in Hazakhstan.

Islamic fundamentalists getting wind of this are likely to cop the same attitude.

No stoop is too low for a Cohen gag.

Cohen gets yucks at the expense of his prey, some quality camera time and forces us to laugh. Uncomfortably. Set up the comedy correctly and we’ll even laugh at things that normally offend. Cohen knows that and uses our all too-human weaknesses against us.

That, too, is offensive.

Mr. Movie rating: 1/2 star

Rated R for male and female nudity, offensive sex scenes, mature language and content. It opens Friday, July 10 at Regal’s Columbia Mall 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.