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Vol. LXIII, No. 28
 
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
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Cinema

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.


I THINK I’LL GIVE HIM A TRADITIONAL AFRICAN NAME: After adopting an orphan, Brüno (Sacha Baron Cohen, holding the baby), deliberately inflames the emotions of the mostly black TV audience when he announces on the show that he is naming his newly adopted son O.J.

Brüno: Sacha Baron Cohen’s New Film “Brüno” Is No “Borat”

Kam Williams

Borat, a shock comedy chronicling the adventures of a crass journalist from Kazakhstan as he traveled across the U.S., was, in this critic’s opinion, the funniest film of 2006. Its star, Sacha Baron Cohen, received an Oscar nomination for writing that faux documentary which employed a controversial bait-and-switch casting style to dupe a series of unsuspecting straight men to unwittingly make fools of themselves.

However, wonders do cease. Cohen is back as another title character, Brüno; an aggressive, gay Austrian who comes to America to conquer Hollywood. Although Borat brilliantly employed an experimental approach to moviemaking, that cinematic innovation feels played out in this sequel. The film’s fatal flaw is that, this time around, virtually all of the participants were obviously in on the joke.

This raises the question, if Cohen is not posing as a gay to elicit authentic, homophobic responses to expose bigotry, what exactly is his reason for filming the feigned reactions of folks pretending to be outraged by Brüno’s flamboyance? Unfortunately, his antics seem designed more to inflame passions, and thereby encourage gay-bashing, than to teach lessons about tolerance.

For example, Brüno takes an orphan he’s adopted overseas onto a Jerry Springer-type television talk show and announces that he has given the toddler a traditional African name, “O.J.” In addition, the child is dressed in a shirt emblazoned with the word “Gayby,” suggesting that he plans to raise the boy to be a homosexual. This deliberate provocation predictably causes the mostly black audience to erupt with rage.

Equally offensive are the moments when Brüno exhorts supermodel Heather Hahn to “Put your shoulders back” as she struts up the runway because “This is a fashion show, not a slave auction,” or when he says he wants “to be the biggest Austrian superstar since Hitler.” Later, he pressures American Idol judge Paula Abdul to sit on a Mexican, and he makes an awkward pass at Congressman Ron Paul in a hotel room.

Because these scenes seem staged, and certainly aren’t funny, one has to wonder what emotions these awkward interactions are supposed to be evoking. Brüno is neither likable nor clever, just an annoying jerk.

Poor (0 stars). Rated R for profanity, sexuality, crude humor, and nudity. Running time: 83 minutes. Studio: Universal Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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