Friday, July 10, 2009

Bruno: shock value over belly laughs

Two stars

By Thomas Tracy

Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is the only person on the planet who would have anal sex with a pygmy for laughs -- and he gets them!

That pretty much sums up “Bruno,” Cohen’s follow-up to the irascible “Borat.” It follows some of the hallmarks that has somehow made the “Ali G” show creator a household name, thanks in part to his planned “impromptu” tea-bagging of rapper Eminem at the MTV movie awards.

A proud NC-17-rated version of Andy Kaufman, Cohen immerses himself in the role of Bruno, the host of a uber-popular Austrian fashion show who is immediately blacklisted after a runway faux-pas.Down on his luck, he and his trusty sidekick Lutz decide to go to America to become Hollywood celebrities.

The rest of the film is mired in vignettes that take vicious pokes at Hollywood focus groups, Milli Vanilli, charities and the new trend among celebrities to adopt babies from Third World countries (instead of adopting, Bruno decides to swap an iPhone for an African child, which he gives a traditional African name -- OJ).

He also manages -- in a trim 88 minutes, mind you -- to make fun of the religious-conservative movement to help homosexuals find their inner hetero and Presidential candidate Ron Paul, who he confuses with Ru Paul and tries to entice into making a sex video, which he believes will elevate him to celebrity status (because we know how popular Mrs. Ron Paul is).

Cohen and director Larry Charles somehow manages to masterfully blur the lines, so you don’t really know if these events are scripted or if the people he’s interviewing/confronting are taken by surprise (we think Ron Paul was).

We do know, however, that we’re really not laughing at the humor, but the shock value of it all.Starring Sacha Baron Cohen.

Directed by Larry Charles. Running time: 88 minutes. Rated R for pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language.


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