Monday, July 13, 2009

In or Aus?

Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat was so over-the-top good that his next film was bound to pale by comparison. Which is not to say that Bruno isn't funny or worth seeing; on both counts it is. But there's something about it that feels very "been there, done that," and most of the movie is maybe even a little too over the top to be believable in the same way that Borat was. And that's why I was a bit disappointed.

In Bruno, Baron Cohen plays the title character, a gay Austrian fashion reporter, who bungles coverage of a fashion show in Milan, is dumped by his boyfriend, and decides to come to America to be a famous movie star. About two-thirds of the movie focuses on Bruno in L.A., interviewing the likes of Paula Abdul, adopting an African baby, appearing on the TV show Medium, and basically being Bruno. There are some humorous things, but some of it feels fake/staged (like the Medium stuff), and that's just lame. It's not really until more than halfway through the movie when Bruno goes to Alabama and starts interacting with "real people" that the film reaches the level of Borat greatness.

Of course, if you've been watching the massive publicity blitz that Baron Cohen has been doing, both in and out of character, and you've seen the trailer and other clips, then you've already heard a lot of the better jokes. Which is alright, because there's some pretty wild stuff — definitely not for the homophobic at heart — that will surprise and amuse. Still, whereas Borat felt "real" and like a mockumentary, and found great humor in the interactions between Borat and his unsuspecting interviewees, Bruno feels more like an improvisational comedy where the star is trying too hard. In short, the novelty just isn't there this time. Bruno is a short movie — it runs just under 90 minutes — and it'd be nice to say a little goes a long way, but in this case, it's probably just enough. I'm going to give this one a B.



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