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IN SHORT: Very funny ... for what would be condemned in every Bible belt state as porn. Maybe some of the non-BB states, too. Explanation below. [Rated R for pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language. 83 minutes]
The publicity people working the door at the sneak of Brüno did a brilliant job ensuring that no one lugging a baby in a knapsack got in to the screening. Your local theater may not be be able to run as tight a ship so let us be very specific about this. Those adults out there smart enough to read this review before planting for Bruno; if you see babies running around in your local theater find a management person and let 'em know before the lights go down and the main character's pants go down and a thirty foot long humanwurst goes a flopping all over your movie screen.
Second, if you are one of the few who haven't seen Sacha Baron Cohen's film Borat, rent and view it first. If you laugh heartily (we did -- though we don't know what happened to the review that should be on line) make sure you see Brüno early and, hopefully, in a full theater. Laughter is contagious and, even once you get past the full frontal male nudity, a good hunk of the humor that follows is as raunchy as a film can get. As funny as Borat was, filming the reactions of reg'lar folk to the questions of an idiot, Brüno goes overboard with simulated homosexual sex and certain other things we're not even going to try to describe. All related in some way to what was mentioned in the last sentence.
Brüno is very rude, very crude and would be a whopping stinker if you were sitting in a fairly empty room. But laughter is contagious and, as repulsive as any description we could write (that is, if we could specifically describe stuff, which we won't) would be, once the laughter starts it rarely stops.
Of course, we're in New York. Your locale may react like some of the poor reg'lar folks do in this film. How Sacha Baron Cohen didn't wind up getting murdered during the making of this film is a mystery. No, not really. Escape routes were planned in advance, according to the press notes. They were needed on more than one occasion. As for the film . . .
The world of fashion, for many years, was ruled by one named designers. The western countries of the european world were, for a time, ruled by a despot named Hitler. Perhaps the desire to dominate the world is just part of the genetic Austrian makeup, which brings us to the fashionista called Brüno, who is determined to be the most famous Austrian since Adolph. As host of the most famous German language television program not made in Germany, something called Funkyzeit Mit Brüno) said Bruno unleashes his first prank, making a show-stopping appearance by crashing designer Agatha Ruiz De La Prada’s fashion event in Milan. There he interviews models and such backstage in a custom made velcro suit. When security tries to throw him out, Bruno makes it to the runway. And away we go . . .
His assistant Diesel (Clifford Banagale) has aspirations of his own -- a no-no for the egomaniac boss -- but said assistant's assistant, Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten) is hopelessly devoted to the über-boss so the pair head for Los Angeles where Brüno’s quest to be über famous takes him all around town and, eventually, around the world.
In no particular order Bruno's scams include snookering celebrities in Los Angeles -- poor Paula Abdul in this case sits on some radical new furniture. Tries to seduce a presidential candidate. Pisses off Harrison Ford and flies to the Mideast to negotiate peace. Or maybe get taken hostage by Arab terrorists, whatever gets him famous. On the other side of the Jordan River Bruno nearly getting killed by ultra orthodox Israelis for showing a wee bit of skin and mocking traditional orthodox garb. oy . . .
Failing to settle that semitic tiff, on the way back to the States Bruno realizes that what huge celebrities have, besides the talent that he doesn't, is the ability to orchestrate huge charity record with multi--platinum artists like Sting and Bono and Snoop Dogg and Elton John. Since doing that that requires real work, and being near Africa and all, Bruno makes like Angelina and Madonna and makes a side trip to the dark continent, to adopt an African baby! Bruno introduces his new son to a teevee talk show audience on something called The Richard Bey Show. Richard Bey is someone who would definitely be worthy of Kathy Griffin's D-List and he may legitimately have a show in LA, but it is here that the film's antics start feeling forced.
So Brüno, the film, does the only thing it can possibly do and makes the star realize that -- to become truly famous in this country -- he must become straight. He goes hunting. Hangs with a national guard unit. Reimagines his persona as "Straight Dave," the impresario of a cage fighting extravaganza. When "Straight Dave" is called out as anything but by an audience member -- again, family site; won't write the word but will hint that it rhymes with "maggot" -- well, that kind of diss demands fisticuffs. Problem is, said challenger is someone we already know from earlier in the film. We've said enough.
No we haven't. There's one more gag that we'll not spoil. If you've read this far you can figure it out yourself. It's funny. Legitimately funny.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Brüno, he would have paid . . .
heck if I know. Brüno is one of the few films that can be as funny as it can be a huge pile of, uh, not funny. I can't see it working as a rental, regardless of how stoned the viewer is. I can't see it working in a second run theater where the audiences are sparse. BUT, we watch with a real audience and our house was packed. Everybody laughed. A lot of that was the "I don't believe he's pulling this stuff" kind of laughter and no one was offended enough to walk out. Not in mass quantities, at least.
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