Unreal Movie Review: Bruno


Borat was most definitely the cultural icon of 2006. He was a clueless foreigner traveling around America, exposing xenophobic ignorance and prejudice through interviews and stunts. Borat was not just an excellent comedy, but it was brilliant social commentary as well.

On first glance, it would seem that Bruno is trying something similar. The flamboyantly gay Austrian is making a journey around the states, and you would imagine his end game is to reveal the massive amount of homophobia that we all know exists in the country.

But while Borat worked as both comedy and commentary, Bruno only grasps the former, and just barely at that.

Bruno is to comedy what Hostel is to horror. The purpose of Hostel was allegedly to scare, but really was just content to shock, something much easier to accomplish. Bruno is much the same way, yes, you’ll laugh as at times it’s physically impossible not to, but mainly your jaw will just be hanging open in awe of how this movie escaped with a mere R-rating.


Lesson taught: Don’t give the gays your kids!

As a whole, Bruno feels a lot more staged than Borat. It’s easy to tell which scenes are definitely real (I don’t believe Ron Paul is that great of an actor) while others most definitely have to be fake (a swingers party where are the participants willing engage in sex acts on camera with their faces unblurred? I don’t think so). The same goes for a Paula Abdul interview, an army boot camp session and many other skits that just don’t feel legitimate.

It kind of takes the fun out of things when you know that certain situations have been forced, and though Borat did it too (Pam Anderson was in on it) it seems far more prevalent in this film, probably because it’s hard to imagine anyone talking to Bruno with two cameras pointed at him and thinking it was anything other than a gag.

So what types of ignorance are revealed in the film? Surprisingly enough, it’s nothing to do with homophobia. Memorable quotes include a girl working as a charity PR rep pronouncing Darfur “Da-far,” a gay conversion pastor going off about how women are annoying, but we as men need to put up with that annoyance to better themselves, and finally a potentially shocking scene involving stage parents agreeing to submit their children to high speed driving, harmful chemicals and lit phosphorous in order to land a photoshoot with Bruno’s adopted child. I have a hard time believing that last bit was real, because if it was, I imagine a bunch of lawsuits are forthcoming.

As for America’s homophobia? Well, the problem I (and apparently GLAAD) has with this movie is that Bruno is every American’s worst fear about what a gay man is. Bruno sneaks into a straight guy’s tent naked during the night and propositions sex, he parades down the street handcuffed to another man done up in bondage gear and worst of all, he shows a picture of him holding his adopted child in a hot tub while naked men frolic around him. That last segment ended with child services coming to take his kid away. If I were gay, I would imagine I wouldn’t find this film merely annoying, but that it’d make me downright furious.


Don’t let the gays near your horses!

The way people in the movie react to Bruno’s flamboyance isn’t at all unexpected or revealing. In fact, most people found in the film almost tolerant to a fault (a pastor sits quietly as a Bruno tells him he has “blow-job lips,” a psychic waits patiently for ten minutes as Bruno perfoms a mimed sex act on a “summoned” dead acquaintance) and people only react when he pushes them to the absolute extreme (what would you do if you were approached in bed by a naked man at 3 am holding condoms? ). The final climactic scene of the film makes the startling discovery that a room full of Alabamans who came to see a cage fight don’t actually want to witness two men make out with each other in their underwear. Stop the ****ing presses.

And that scene alone sums up Bruno. It’s undeniably hilarious when the rock music gives way to Celine Dion, and the looks on the crowds faces change from bloodlust to horror and even tears, but there’s no other purpose to the scene other than eliciting a reaction of pure shock.

People will tell me I’m taking this movie too seriously, and I should just enjoy it as the gay version of Jackass that is essentially is. And if viewed strictly on that level, Bruno is a success, but after Borat deftly blended silliness and commentary, I was hoping Bruno would be able to do the same thing.

But that’s not the case, and though Bruno would seem to hurt the gays more than help them, the effect will ultimately be negligible as any homophobe who’s seen a poster or watched a trailer won’t get within 100 yards of the theater to experience the film’s full array of raunchiness. But I know there’s an arena full of Alabamans, a studio full of Texans and an assortment of other people all over the country who had their prejudices justified by Bruno, and rightfully so.

Ultimately Bruno is funny in the most primal sense of the word, and if that’s all you require, than I highly recommend it. But those looking for Borat 2 won’t find it, and I just hope Sacha Baron Cohen has another character left in him to make the third chapter in this saga a redeeming one.

2.5 out of 5 stars


To me, this is funnier than anything in the entire movie. A gold-plated Chanel RPG. Come on!

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  1. actually, paula commented a while back that she wasn’t in on the whole scheme. i haven’t seen the movie, but i know she was supposed to do an interview with him to find his ‘furniture’.

  2. To be fair i think its a lot more similar to borat than you give it credit for. Bruno no more represents a realistic gay person than borat does a real kazakhstani, they are just a representation of how the two groups are perceived by the American public at large.

    I do think this film takes a little more time to settle than borat though as on leaving the cinema i didn’t really think it was as good, but on reflection i have to say it’s really grown on me. Also i disagree with you that many of the scenes are faked, some obviously were, but many of the ones you mention i’m pretty sure were not. I suspect you just have a little to much faith left in humanity 😛

    That said, how on earth Sacha Baron Cohen didn’t get literally killed during the making of this film, i don’t know.

  3. Right – the Ali G movie was totally scripted and didn’t even attempt to convice viewers that it wasn’t. The whole thing was a pretty standard comedy with characters, not real people being duped.

  4. You couldn’t have said it better about your jaw on the floor and it getting an R rating. That is the first thing I said when I left the movie was that I couldn’t believe it had an R rating. That was lenient.

    I laughed many times, but most the time I had my hand over my mouth in shock. And it was just uncomfortable. Not the in-your-face homosexuality, but just awkward in what he was saying to people and their reactions. That hotel scene was insane.

    Overall, I’d give it a C+. I was hoping for a Borat type movie, like how I can watch that again many times and still find it funny, but with Bruno I don’t see it having the same staying power.

  5. I guess you’d be surprised to learn that the Paula Abdul sequence was real, the military base was real (the troops recognized Sacha but didn’t say anything so the prank was on their superiors), the parents whoring out their children were real, and even that whole fashionista thing at the beginning was completely real.


    Borat was a movie about ignorance. Bruno is not. It’s about hypocrisy. You have Paula Abdul talk about charity work and humanitarian efforts while sitting on a Mexican, an arena of homophobes who celebrate when women are stripped to their underwear and violently react when men are stripped to their underwear, middle-eastern terrorists who react more favorably to an outrageously annoying foreign gay man than to each other, and an audience of self-righteous parents who triumphantly call for a gay man’s adopted child to be removed from his custody as he screams and cries while being dragged away by security guards.

    And of course it has a lot of offensive moments in it, some more than others, but every single part of it – even the thirty-five foot dancing penis – had a point to make. It’s just too bad you missed it because it’s such a funny movie. Maybe it’d be funnier on a second viewing? You might not have been in the mood for that kind of movie.

  6. Yeah, you make good points and I agree with you on everything except the Texas talk show (that was simply showing what was more or less child abuse, and the crowd reacted accordingly).

    I guess it is comforting to know those sequences were real, but even so it just didn’t feel as authentic as Borat, and the humor just felt more shocking than probing (no pun intended).

    I doubt I’ll ever feel the need to see it again, but if I do, I’ll try to view it in a different way.

  7. I thinki t’s been said but yea the point of Bruno (maybe not the point of hte movie but the character)
    is. that to mdidle america Bruno is their ‘idea’ of what a gay man is like.

    For the most part they simply can’t believe that a gay guy could be the dude sitting on the bus wearing jeans and a tshirt and dressed ‘normally’

    The humor is, for the most part, shock humor but all in all I thought the movie was worth while to see.

    although yea, you’re right, borat’s humor was… I guess smarter (or i found it to be that way but that iddn’t make Bruno a horrible movie IMO).

  8. I saw Bruno last night and I loved it.

    Why is Bruno held to a higher standard than other comedies? Yes, Borat had social commentary, but so what if Bruno didn’t? What if Cohen simply wanted to have fun and shock people? I laughed my ass off.

    And where is the social commentary in The Hangover? Who gives a shit? If something’s funny, it’s funny. If you don’t findd the shock humor funny, that’s one thing, but let’s not say that Bruno failed as a film when the intention was never to provide commentary.

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