Brüno makes one thing clear about American cinema today: You can show dicks without threatening an R rating.
Back in the day, showing big cock was as forbidden as giving kids pot brownies, chased by vodka, for breakfast. These days, dicks are flying like doves in a John Woo movie. If things keep going at this rate, Comedic Dick Cinema is going to become its own genre.
Brüno, the latest film from British comedy outlaw Sacha Baron Cohen, not only has a lot of dick in it; it has a talking dick. Wait ... let me clarify. It's a shouting dick, and it's a big laugh in a movie that has plenty of small to medium ones. Laughs, that is.
The title character is a gay Austrian TV-fashion-show host who gets fired for wearing a Velcro suit on assignment. (He winds up on a high-profile walkway with many expensive garments attached to him.) He comes to America, where he's looking to start a stateside version of his show.
This basically sets the stage for the same format that Cohen and director Larry Charles used in 2006 for Borat. The results aren't as consistent, and some of the scenarios feel staged, but there are plenty of laughs to be had. It also must be said that Cohen has balls the size of Jupiter, considering some of the things he puts himself through for humor's sake.
Cohen's main mission this time out is to expose homophobes. While it's no surprise to see redneck hunters looking insecure and uncomfortable in the presence of Brüno, it's quite a shock when former presidential candidate Ron Paul venomously shouts, "Queer!" This moment comes after Brüno gets a little out of hand during a hotel-room interview. While Paul's nervousness about the moment might be justifiable, it's a bit disconcerting to see how quickly the man resorts to hateful slurs. Did Paul sign a talent release for this movie? His appearance doesn't flatter him much.
Cohen also has fun satirizing American celebrity, most notably Madonna and Angelina Jolie's "accessorizing" with children from foreign lands. When Brüno goes on a talk show hosted by Richard Bey, Brüno brings his adopted black child, O.J., along for the discussion. This moment feels a little fake, but that doesn't make it any less funny. A photo of O.J. covered with bees, resting in the arms of a heavily protected Brüno, is satire at its best. Who cares about the welfare of the child, as long as that child makes the celebrity look hot ... right?
As was rumored, a sequence that involved La Toya Jackson has been removed out of respect for the Jackson family in their time of mourning. Apparently, she was a victim of the same stunt that gets (or appears to get) Paula Abdul. During an interview with Brüno, Abdul is invited to sit down on his Mexican furniture (actual Mexicans on all fours) and eat sushi off of a Mexican's body. She is not amused.
The most shocking sequence involves Brüno attending a swingers' party. While black bars block some of the visuals, little is left to the imagination as Brüno tries in vain to participate. One man, who has no problem demonstrating sexual positions with Brüno away from the party, gets irate when Brüno interrupts a blow job he's getting from his female swinger partner. The scene culminates in Cohen being dominated by an angry blonde woman, in another sequence that seems staged—but staged or not, it looks and sounds like Cohen takes some honest whacks from a leather belt.
It would be criminal to say which celebrities show up for Brüno's charity song at the film's end. Let's just say that the music world has a lot of good sports in it, and the song is very catchy. OK, I'll give away one of the celebrities: Slash. Slash plays guitar during the song. Who gives a crap about Slash, really?
This is the third film based on one of Cohen's alter egos from his Da Ali G show. The movie Ali G Indahouse came and went in 2002, before Cohen teamed with Charles for Borat and perfected the format. Actually, Charles and Cohen should bring back Ali G; he's now probably the least recognizable of his three characters, and he might still be able to pull the wool over many eyes. Ali G actually got an interview with James Baker once. That was some pretty amazing stuff. Ali G with Obama would be nice.
Whatever Cohen does next, he's bound to give the folks at the Motion Picture Association of America some major headaches. This movie pushes the boundaries of the R rating to the limit, and some will undoubtedly think it goes too far. (Folks were walking out of the screening I attended.) Don't bring the kids, unless your kids like talking dicks, bleached buttholes and swinger parties—in which case, it's Sunday matinee time!