Could Brüno be the Most Important Film of the Year?
Teen Critic Takes on Brüno
Three years ago, Sacha Baron Cohen cemented his status as one of the most inventive and incendiary comedians on the face of the planet when his outrageous Kazakistani news reporter traveled the U.S. Now Cohen is bringing yet another staple character of his Ali G days to the big screen in "Brüno" (opening July 10 throughout San Diego). And all I have to say is thank god for Sacha Baron Cohen. There is no other person in Hollywood today who's willing to push so many boundaries and look past the line of decency again and again just to give us some laughs, along with some good-natured culture shock. While I do admit that in this film, Cohen has fallen back on the same road trip/buddy story structure that he used in "Borat," I find myself thinking who the hell cares about the plot devices used in "Brüno." Nobody going into this movie should expect anything but a paper thin resemblance of a plot, because what they'll find instead is a series of sketches featuring a gay Austrian fashion reporter named Bruno who's desperately trying to make his way into the celebrity A-list. Sometimes that means being an extra on NBC's "Medium" or interviewing Paula Abdul or telling a "gay converter" he had great "blow job lips" or even trying to solve the problems in the Middle East, in addition to having some quality "alone time" with congressman Ron Paul. And that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Once again under the helm of director Larry Charles ("Borat," "Religulous"), Cohen and his team show no mercy in where they're willing to go and who they're willing to take stabs at. One of the film's most shocking sequences is seeing Bruno interview an actual leader of a Terrorist organization. Some of the things that happen in this film, when they aren't making me laugh so hard I cry, simply left me stunned. If there are those who felt Cohen crossed the line in "Borat," I don't know what they'll make of scenes that feature various sexual activities between Brüno and his pygmy lover or when Brüno and his assistant, Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten), begin to lock lips and undress amidst a stadium filled with mid-western wrestling fans who send beer bottles and even a metal folding chair into the arena, just barley missing the two actors. And while the film is designed to entertain audiences with plenty of stupid and/or awkward humor, it does so with a little more direction than most critics give Cohen and his team credit for. Cohen uses these characters to poke fun at the problems inherent within our own society, whether it's the perception of homosexuals in society or the obsession with celebrity or just the general absurdity of it all. And as the aforementioned wrestling scene unfolds, one is startled at the sometimes violent reaction of the crowd in response to the revelation that Cohen's "Straight Dave," host of the show, is actually a closeted homosexual. Cohen's brand of humor is a certain type that mixes intellectual consideration with often juvenile antics, an act that establishes him as one of the world's greatest living satirists, willing to do what no one else will to expose some of the world's greatest insecurities while still managing to poke fun at anyone he can get his hands on.
Many will be shocked, offended, and most definitely leave "Brüno" (rated R for for pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language) with nothing but an absolute disdain for it, but such is the cost of what "Brüno," the film, seeks to achieve. If you liked "Borat" and appreciate the Sacha Baron Cohen brand, I'd say head to your local theater for what may well be the funniest movie of 2009! And if you don't fit that bill, well you probably stopped reading at "blow job lips".
----Michael Shymon just graduated from The Bishop's School. He has had an avid passion for film since he was about 5. He enjoys acting, writing, watching movies, as well as making his own films. He will be attending NYU Tisch Film School next year and hopes that all this movie watching will one day pay off.