Cohen strikes gold again

July 14, 2009, midnight | By Jasmine Sarjeant | 12 years, 10 months ago

Brüno" hits harder, better, faster and stronger

With the premiere of "Brüno" last Friday, Sasha Baron Cohen unleashed the kind of unadulterated, unrelenting comical assault that became world-known with his 2006 hit "Borat." This time parading about as a 19-year-old Austrian man in search of fame, Cohen turns up the gas to a point where you think he can't go any farther, and then hits it again.

Brüno (Cohen) is the self-absorbed host of the hit Austrian fashion show "Funkyzeit," but after a major fashion faux pas at an important runway event, he is fired and left without his fame, his posse and the love of his life, a short foreign boy-man named Kookus. With nothing but time on his hands, Brüno decides that the only thing for him to do is to pursue world-wide fame, so he heads to Los Angeles to make his mark.

With his questionable judgment calls and overwhelming ignorance towards what is or isn't socially acceptable, Brüno manages to offend everyone he meets including a focus group sent to review his self-produced pilot for a new talk show. Instead of respecting clear social and moral boundaries, "Brüno" features an interview with Harrison Ford that borders on harassment, discusses aborting Jamie-Lynn Spears's baby and finishes it off with a barrage of phallic nudity. He travels the world, trying to anger terrorists with the hope that they feature him in a ransom video, adopting a black baby to join the leagues of Madonna and Brangelina and looking for the next hip charitable cause to support with the hope that something that he does will make him a star.

It's obvious that the movie was made to offend, but with Cohen doing so through the controversial issue of homosexuality, the message is made a lot clearer than in "Borat." The buttons have been pushed harder and the viewpoints portrayed throughout the film are more incredulous than before. Yet somehow, it works.

The strong emphasis on homosexuality works more to highlight society's intolerance than to make fun of the issue. Cohen continues his assault on American culture to a point where all you can do is laugh and accept the barrage of insanity because of how disturbing the truth really is. "Brüno" is easily more outrageous than its predecessor but maybe that's just what we need. Maybe we need someone throwing us into the most uncomfortable situations we can imagine before we realize how outrageous we've become.

As an actor, Cohen pulls of the lead role as perfectly as he did Borat. The character is convincing and, as offensive as he is, very believable. Despite most of the film being unscripted, the supporting cast is excellent. However, the charm of "Brüno" lies in how under-produced it is. It feels more akin to home movie then a major Hollywood production, partially because most of the movie seems to be filmed by handheld cameras. On the whole, this serves to make the movie more realistic and allows the viewer to focus more on Brüno's ridiculous interactions with the other characters featured in the movie.

Like "Borat," "Brüno" isn't for the sensitive or light hearted but if you liked the first, you'll love the second.

"Brüno" (83 minutes) is rated R for pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language. Now playing in theaters everywhere.

Jasmine Sarjeant. More »

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