Brüno
R1 - America - Universal Pictures
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (10th January 2010).
The Film

For some comedians overpopularity is a real curse. The brilliance of Dave Chapelle was nearly ruined by college kids who couldn’t stop yelling “I’m Rick James Bitch, ” or people who were laughing for all the wrong reasons. Sacha Baron Cohen was nearly ruined for me in the same way with far too many “Borat” (2006) imitations. No I will not give you a high five. “Brüno” (2009) faced a similar sort of problem because Baron Cohen had become such a huge hit with “Borat” I thought he would have trouble getting real reactions again. Thankfully “Brüno” wasn’t nearly as quoted, but still a hilarious look at unwitting people in the Untied States with the sort of absurd character that Baron Cohen can pull off.

Brüno (Sacha Baron Cohen), a flamboyant gay Austrian Fashionista, has been the host of the German TV show "Funkyzeit mit Brüno" and is covering the fashion show in Milan. Unfortunately his antics get him in trouble in Milan, blacklisted from the fashion community and canceling his TV show. Distraught and out of friends, Brüno seeks fame in the United States and is followed by his unfortunate assistant's assistant Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten). Brüno tries everything from a new TV show that is tanked by a focus group to getting into charity with two charity consultants in Hollywood. Unfortunately he doesn’t get the fame from trying to solve the crisis in the Middle East, and he can’t get any new TV opportunities, but Brüno keeps trying everything.

What probably annoyed me the most about the constant quoting of “Borat” is not only that it’s annoying as hell, but it’s that it seems that many people overlooked most of the comedy in the movie. Its not about the silly voices and situations, though those can be hilarious, it’s about making people react to these situations and making them think it’s real. Through these characters he shows the absurdity of some people’s reaction and just how much they’re willing to put up with from other people. Interviewing celebrities while having them sit on Latino workers while the celebrities act like nothing is wrong just because they’re told to do it, while never questioning anything until they’re asked to eat sushi off a hairy guy’s body. Pretty funny. Telling a ‘pray out the gay’ homophobe minister that he has dicksucking lips? Hilarious.

Cohen’s characters are purposefully stereotypical. His movies aren’t as much about the character as they are about people’s reactions and showing off how ridiculous actual people are. From the racist fratboys in “Borat” to the crazed ‘God hates Fags’ and ‘gay converting’ pastors in “Brüno.” These sort of racist and homophobic sides of America are known, not particularly acknowledged but the honesty he approaches them with the most bizarre characters and how easily they accept him just shows how much the stereotypical impressions of groups are accepted and just how easily some people are willing to open up.

But of course since it’s a movie, you have to give tons of praise to the improvisational skills of Sacha Baron Cohen who has been great in regular acting roles but really seems to shine in his bizarre characters. What seemed to get lost in all the fray about Cohen and all of the crazy people in the movie is the incredible performance by Gustaf Hammarsten, who is just a Swedish actor who plays the entire movie as real. His character is really in love with Brüno and genuinely cares for this shallow and bizarre character and rides through the whole movie, even going through a clothed lovemaking scene at the end of the film to top it all off.

Overall Brüno is a movie that really brings out the craziness of the United States and some of the extent of the homophobia in parts of the country and the shallowness of Hollywood when it comes to charities and children. The biggest weakness with the film is that I feel there are some missed opportunites, perhaps out of safety for Cohen in looking at these homophobic anti-gay rallies around the country, while also not necessarily giving even spread to the range of homophobia. It’s a little easy to look at certain country areas, but the homophobia that was present in California to push through Prop. 8 that stopped Brüno and Lutz from getting married in the first place could have used more Brüno magic.

The Midwestern Iowa voted to legalize gay marriage yet major liberal metropolitan states like California and New York voted heavily to ban. What the hell? Get in there Brüno.

Video

Presented with a 1.85:1 anamorphic aspect ratio “Brüno” comes with a good looking transfer, especially considering the documentary style of filming it still has a high quality production. The nightvision scenes look good, the entire movie has about the same look and feel that I remember it having in theatres so there’s no real loss of quality here. The only thing approaching a problem is just that it still has the feel of DVD, lacking clarity that I didn’t think I would see out of DVD, only to realize that the format itself has little flaws.

Audio

The film is mainly presented in an English/German Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track and it does it’s job fairly well of getting the audio through. There are definite quality differences throughout the film, but with it’s documentary style and the odd scenes of Brüno sneaking between tents or at "Straight Dave’s" wrestling arena that make more sense to have off audio quality just to keep with the feel of the film and the feel of the scene. Still it’s a nice enough transfer that puts together the audio about as well as I could have expected.
There are also French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks as well as a "DVS" English Audio Descriptive Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track for the visually impaired. English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish subtitles are included as well.

Extras

It looks a little sparse on the surface but there’s actually a good amount of special features including an audio/video commentary, deleted scenes, alternate scenes, extended scenes, an interview and bonus trailers.

First up is the audio/video commentary with actor Sacha Baron Cohen and director Larry Charles, dealing with just about everything involved in the movie. It’s listed as an “extended commentary” on the menu, and actually runs longer than the film itself at 1 hour 48 minutes and 11 seconds as the duo will actually pause the film to show some extra behind the scenes looks and talk a bit more about the scene itself. Not only do they deal with a lot of the controversial material, speaking to people’s reactions to his character or the different situations, but also really going in depth on how they managed to get in and out of their different encounters. It’s hard to do justice to a lot of the great stories in the commentary, but the fact that they extended the film just to talk about it should give you some idea. Granted there are some pauses but the movie is funny enough and the commentary is interesting enough for it to be totally acceptable.

There are two alternate scenes, playable together for 5 minutes and 43 seconds or separately:

- “Pete Rose” runs for 2 minutes and 23 seconds, this features the former baseball star Pete Rose on Brüno’s show and sitting on top of some of the Latino workers, pulling most of the same gags as he did with Paula Abdul. It’s a funny scene where Rose appears.
- “Politician Sex Tape” runs for 3 minutes and 20 seconds. Brüno sits down with a wide array of political people from Tom Ridge, formerly of Homeland Security to John Bolton pulling the same gag that he pulled with Ron Paul. There’s some hilarious takes of him hitting on all of these conservative politicians creating the same sort of awkwardness and discomfort.

There are a good amount of deleted scenes, 10 in all, playable together for 35 minutes and 15 seconds. They include:

- “La Toya Jackson” runs for 1 minute and 37 seconds, where Brüno is interviewing La Toya and he tries to get Michael Jackson on the show only to have La Toya leave.
- “Fashion Montage” runs for 5 minutes and 51 seconds, a longer montage of conversations with fashion designers in Milan as well as looking at many of the different models and designers with tons of bizarre comments like how to makeover Hitler or how to slip into the front row of fashion shows.
- “Party Planner” runs for 1 minute and 41 seconds, Brüno talks with Jeff Lennon, the supposed best party planner in L.A., and Bruno runs through a bunch of bizarre party scenarios.
- “Realtors” runs for 2 minutes and 9 seconds, Brüno looks around some Hollywood houses with realtors, including one who tells Brüno where the hardest working, laziest, and least likely to show a bruise servants come from.
- “Interior Designer” runs for 2 minutes and 27 seconds, Brüno talks with an interior designer who tells Brüno how to keep cripples out of his house.
- “Texas” runs for 14 minutes and 10 seconds. This scene is mostly Brüno interviewing for a TV reporting job, including an interview with a white supremacist in Texas who gets interrupted by his old boyfriend and he and Brüno get in a spat right in front of him, as well as an interview with some of the Dallas Cowboys.
- “Scientist” runs for 2 minutes and 12 seconds, Brüno interviews a scientist using the voice to text program on two different computers.
- “Gun Show” runs for 1 minute and 31 seconds, Brüno goes to a gun show and asks people about the best place to unload their weapons into other men.
- “Manacle Mall” runs for 43 seconds, Brüno and Lutz run through a mall strapped together.
- “Anti-gay Marriage Rally” runs for 2 minutes and 53 seconds. Brüno attends on an anti-gay marriage rally, I’m assuming in California since there are tons of yes on 8 signs.

There are 7 extended scenes as well, playable for together for 18 minutes and 44 seconds. They include:

- “Baby Casting” runs for 3 minutes and 56 seconds, Brüno interviews parents about what they’re comfortable with for baby photo shoots.
- “Wedding” runs for 2 minutes and 9 seconds, an extended version of Brüno and Lutz’s wedding.
- “Second Gay Converter” runs for 59 seconds, the second gay converter has trouble understanding Brüno.
- “Swingers” runs for 5 minutes and 4 seconds, this is an extended version of the swinging scene including all the sexual positions and more interviews.
- “Lloyd Robinson – Agent Meeting” runs for 3 minutes and 30 seconds, Brüno talks about ideas for different shows and his personal history in television with his agent.
- “Lloyd Robinson – Focus Group” runs for 1 minute and 25 seconds, Brüno runs into the focus group, and then talking with his agent after the focus group.
- “Lloyd Robinson – Dove of Peace” runs for 1 minute and 42 seconds, Lloyd looks in at Brüno recording the song at the end of the film, telling him his whole story of the film.

Finally is an interview with Lloyd Robinson which runs for 5 minutes and 32 seconds, where he talks about working with Brüno and the joke of it all.

The bonus trailers are for:

- “American Pie Presents: The Book Of Love Unrated” which runs for 1 minute and 54 seconds.
- “Funny People” runs for 1 minute and 29 seconds.
- “Universal Blu-ray” spot runs for 1 minute and 24 seconds.
- “Public Enemies” runs for 36 seconds.
- “Battlestar Galactica: The Plan” runs for 32 seconds.
- “Smokin’ Aces 2” runs for 1 minute and 16 seconds.

Packaging

Packaged in an amaray case housed in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

The Film: A- Video: B+ Audio: A- Extras: A Overall: B+

 


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