Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Gustaf Hammarsten, Clifford Bañagale, Chibundu Orukwowu
Director: Larry Charles
Running time: 80 minutes
I’ve said this before and I will keep re-iterating it: I’m not sure whether Sacha Baron Cohen is a genius or a misguided moron who makes me laugh a lot. He exploded onto our scenes ten years ago when he did a small slot for the 11 o’clock show. Anyone remember that? I recall tuning in for him and the spectacularly dry-wittingly charming Daisy Donovan. Cohen has managed to do so much in that time, not to mention surpass all levels of absurdity possible, that looking at him and not smiling is actually quite a difficult task for me.
He made a film starring the irreverent Ali G and then repeated that success by making a film for Borat (with a stupidly long-winded name). He’s only gone and done it again for Bruno – but can this film mirror his previous successes that have led him to win many awards (including BAFTAs) and be nominated for many others (including Emmys)?
The premise of this film (now with much shorter, snazzier title) is simple: Bruno, the flamboyantly gay fashionista (a failed one at that), wants to be “the biggest Austrian superstar since Hitler”. You’re really going to have to excuse me here because there’s only one way to rate this type of film – and it’s not on story, camerawork or character development. It’s on sheer audacity to get away with the things he has been able to. And, blimey, he has done pretty well (I’ll give him that much), but given Cohen’s current notoriety, I wonder how long he will be able to get away with doing this. So, we begin. Bruno gets up to all sorts of mischief to try to secure himself as one of the biggest celebrities known to man by emulating the behaviour of some of real life’s biggest celebrities.
One notable, and so very funny, faux pas that Bruno makes is in the adoption of an African baby. The absolute horror on people’s faces as this baby arrives at an airport’s baggage belt for reclaiming, with air holes punched into the top, is excruciatingly priceless. You will laugh. Hard. This then becomes a running joke for the film as he loses the baby after appearing on an all-black talk show, only to tell the host and the audience that he swapped baby OJ (oh, yes he did) for an iPod. Then, a little while later he states that he managed to get little OJ back by trading him, yet again – but this time for a Macbook Pro.
Another stroke of genius Bruno makes is to get kidnapped and held by terrorists in the Middle East. It seems that now, in real life, Cohen is getting death threats from them and should probably be very careful where he treads. He should also start to think about his wife a little more as every scene with him holding onto another man’s genitals or being asked to engage in sexual acts by randy swingers in bondage (remember, they think it’s all real), simply makes me wonder how the hell Isla Fisher puts up with him.
Don’t get me wrong – I really do love these creations – but I am no longer aware of where he’s going with them. With Ali G we saw Cohen just being an idiot lacking a lot of respect. With Borat, Cohen decided to push the parameters of America and display just how stupid and close-minded those that live in the sticks really can be. For Bruno, there was a slightly different turn – we got to see him push people’s homosexual prejudices to the limits. I guess my next question is now fairly obvious; where does he plan to go next? Are we going to see ‘Matilda; a dog-breeding transsexual’? Or will we see him play ‘Ernie; the mentally challenged video-gaming icon’? I really could spend all day coming up with more, but I think you understand the point. He may have taken his silliness a little too far for his own good.
For Borat to be so successful, it had the magnificence of something so wonderful and something so lacking in most of today’s creations: the element of surprise. We had no idea what to expect with his second masterpiece, but with Bruno we were expecting him to be outrageously foolish and so very out of order. For me, this has definitely made Cohen’s third creation lose a little sparkle. For you know not what or how much you expect him to cause an indecency (all the while comparing it to his last) and it is within this that lies the confusion of how much to rate what you’ve just seen (all the while comparing it to his last), thus creating a rather weird inner sensation that you sincerely hope wasn’t the dodgy popcorn. Oh, and in between cringing you’re laughing sometimes too – which really doesn’t help any decision-making process.
Methinks Sacha Baron Cohen’s time is up for all of his debauchery, game-playing and character-making. I really have no clue how he’ll keep making these personalities and films if, sooner or later, everyone knows who he is. Maybe he’ll do for other countries what he did for Kazakhstan. He put them back on the map, at least, right?
Or perhaps I’m just thinking about all of this too much.
Please be warned that by going to see this film you’ll be coming head-to-head with male genitalia, references to male genitalia and a complete and utter c*ck.
Bruno gets a pitiful two out of five.