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Directed by Larry Charles.
Written by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer and Jeff Schaffer.
Starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Gustaf Hammersten.
Release Year:  2009
Review Date:  7/10/09


The "Ali G" movie was terrible...the TV show "Da Ali G Show" was okay..."Borat" was good...but, with "Brüno", I think comedian Sacha Baron Cohen has come up with a package that is funny, shocking, well performed and lean, easily his best work.  But, I guess my biggest question at this point is...what the hell will Cohen do next?

I ask because "Brüno" is a chart-topper, an over-the-top (WAY over-the-top) performance that is very easily the wrongest shit I have ever seen in an R-rated motion picture.  That it is so shocking becomes even more incredible when you consider that the film is so damned funny, featuring a very steady stream of laughs over a 90-minute production that rarely has you sitting on your thumbs waiting for the next comedic moment.  The character Brüno is a 19-year-old gay Austrian fashionista (or, so he says) who gets bagged from his home country TV show and comes to the U.S. in search of fame on a worldwide scale along with his assistant Lutz (Gustaf Hammersten).  In the process, he interviews real-life famous people as well as industry experts, international terrorists, overzealous parents and Mexican laborers while bouncing between L.A., the Middle East and Alabama (???) trying to become an international star.

As some of you may remember, I thought the funniest single movie scene in 2006 was the hotel naked wrestling sequence from "Borat"; in "Brüno", there are at least five scenes like that in terms of the laughter barrel quotient.  There is a point during this film--after a focus group has finished watching a clip from a proposed Brüno TV show--where I thought my theater audience was going to literally die from laughter.  But, as shocking as the bit is, it IS really, legitimately funny...I think this is where Cohen has really nailed it, in terms of the mix of social commentary to go along with raunchy humor.  Closed-minded people get reamed in this movie, but the Cohen style of mixing acting with his hidden cameras during bits with non-actors really delivers.

And, how does a man not break character while getting beaten with a whip, or asking former government officials questions about issues of a sexual nature?  How does he not crack a smile while telling a talk-show audience that he gave his black child a "traditional African name"--O.J.??  How does he tell a guy boning a girl at a swingers party that he's going to grab a sandwich while not even smiling?  Cohen does all of this while in character; the concentration alone that he exhibits while playing Borat or Brüno is mind-boggling to me.  But, he's so good at it, that you sometimes lose sight of how gifted a performer this guy really is.

I don't know if a film featuring scenes where you can learn how to fight off a naked gay attacker wielding a black and a white dildo can really be up for an Oscar early next year...but, if any film's got a shot, it would be this one for Cohen's performance, which is incredible.  I really thought "Brüno" gave "The Hangover" a run for its money, as I think you can't go wrong with either one.  Great stuff!

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 07/12/09