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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Sacha Baron Cohen.
Directors
Larry Charles.
Screenwriters
Sacha Baron Cohen.
Running Time
81 minutes

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Bruno
It’s Borat in hot pants. Nice?


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Plot
After being thrown out of the fashion world and sacked from his TV show Funkyzeit, Austrian media sensation Brüno goes to Los Angeles to reinvent himself and become a big, gay star...


Review
Bruno
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How do you follow Borat, a film that exploded comedy conventions and made its audience horribly complicit in the laughs it generated, almost all at the expense of other people? Well, the sad news is that Brüno reveals you can't. Though it pushes discomfort to an often unbearable degree, going way, way further than Borat, with graphic anal sex jokes, a talking penis and a simulated rimming scene that lasts an eternity for the poor clairvoyant who claims to have summoned up Milli (or is it Vanilli?), this lurching, ragged patchwork really doesn't ever scale the same awkward heights.

The story, such as it is, practically follows the same blueprint, and instead of hiking across America to woo Pamela Anderson, Brüno makes a brief stop in the Middle East as part of a plan to stop the troubles there, and then goes to California, trying various short cuts to celebrity — making a sex tape, adopting an African baby, recording a charity song — along the way. But the problem is, where Borat was an adorable, bumbling buffoon, Brüno is a shrill, vain, unsympathetic narcissist. Borat's targets were always prepared to cut him some slack. Not so Brüno: if they haven't already worked it out, they either leave abruptly or play a guarded game. As a result, few scenes really last long, and there's nothing on a par with Borat's driving lesson, or that excruciating dinner party in Alabama.

There was also a point to Borat. America sees itself as a melting pot, and that film was about testing that claim: is everyone really accepted there? Funnily enough — and it was funny — the answer was pretty much yes. Brüno, though, has no clear purpose. What is it satirising exactly? Celebrity? Homophobia? Xenophobia (again)? It lunges, often quite successfully, at all three, but without any rhyme or reason. It feels thrown together in the editing room — which Borat did too, but in a good way — and relies too much on easy targets, like the model who gushes about how hard it is to put one leg in front of the other, or the greedy stage parents who'll do anything for money. Most disappointing of all is a dreadful celebrity singalong that simply feels glued onto the end.

Despite its flaws, though, there are some genius moments — Brüno's baby photos, his short-lived career as a soap actor, his shooting trip with some very unhappy campers — and what little heart it has comes courtesy of his sidekick Lutz (Hammarsten), his ex-assistant's lovestruck assistant who follows him from Austria. Filling the Azamat slot, Lutz adds a much-needed, gawky innocence to the proceedings. And innocence is in short supply here. On this evidence, Sacha Baron Cohen has been well and truly rumbled, and it's hard to imagine he'll ever be the undercover clown again.


Verdict
A patchy, hit-and-miss comedy with a few outrageous highs and a lot of just-okay padding, Brüno suggests that Sacha Baron Cohen's in-your-face fool routine sadly isn't working any more.


Reviewed by Damon Wise

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Bruno
Empire Star Rating

I would give it 3 1/2

Yes it is funny in parts. Very very funny in parts. I it was a better film than Borat. However. After the MTV awards its hard to work out what is real and what is not. Maybe it is all fake. You can not help but feel that Cohen is far too smug for his own good when speaking to "normal" people in it. What really annoys me is the fact they cut out the Jackson part. So its OK to offend some pople but not others. WHY? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Death_Row_Marv at 15:26, 16 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Bruno

L: richCie there was too much staged and after getting fairly excited by the slashfilm review there wasnt enough of the suggested documentary nature to it, namely we didnt get enough ordinary people reactions like with the Wrestling match which was the highlight of the film. it was when Bruno was exposing the reactions of some of the american people that the film worked best, the staged routines, especially the song at the end were dull and ultimately pointless. there is however such ... More

Posted by losthighway at 12:38, 16 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Bruno

there was too much staged and after getting fairly excited by the slashfilm review there wasnt enough of the suggested documentary nature to it, namely we didnt get enough ordinary people reactions like with the Wrestling match which was the highlight of the film. it was when Bruno was exposing the reactions of some of the american people that the film worked best, the staged routines, especially the song at the end were dull and ultimately pointless. there is however such a sheer number o... More

Posted by richCie at 10:54, 16 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Bruno

Was never Borat's biggest fan truth be told and this was no different, it was merely ok. Now don't get me wrong, three or four brief moments (pilot show test being a prime example) are utterly inspired and insanely funny, but sweep those few minutes aside and you're not left with an awful lot beyond Cohen making endless quips about gay sex, none of which are particularly funny. I just don't personally feel that the routine as it were can sustain even a running time as brisk as 81 minutes. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by paulyboy at 10:13, 16 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Not enough real situations

 L: mysterious ..disgusting movie greed. It was fucking hilarious, Cohen is possibly the bravest performance artist I've ever seen. Best comedic (and envelope pushing) film I've seen in a long time. One question though, did he use a cock double for the TV show test screening sketch or what? ... More

Posted by spamandham at 03:06, 16 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Good not great!

I liked it, although felt like the plot was the same formula as Borat - but who watches these types of film for plot. I got a few good laughs and felt it was worth the trip to the cinema. I personally think this is a great film about gay rights, seeing so many angry homophobes really made me root for Borat and boyfriend - and that had nothing to do with the Titanic theme ... More

Posted by Tech_Noir at 16:20, 15 July 2009 | Report This Post


Good not great!

Just got back from the cinema (after battling the Harry Potter crowds!!!)...   Well it's not a patch on Borat and whilst it was ] funny in places, other parts just felt flat and felt too staged. As someone who is gay I honestly can't see why he's been branded homophobic. e.g. all the skits which played upon heterosexual views of what us gay folk are supposed to be like were taken to such ridiculous extremes that he was successfully mking fun of the idiocy of such beliefs. I know mentio... More

Posted by losthighway at 15:25, 15 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Scripted and more set up version of Borat - still hilarious

L: mattdavies86 -         Wrestling match – the changing emotions of the shaved head guy was incredible. sp; That was the best bit for me. When the guy threw in the chair I nealy fell of my seat. Plus the faces on the rednecks were a picture.   A very funny film. ... More

Posted by LoganX at 15:03, 15 July 2009 | Report This Post


Scripted and more set up version of Borat - still hilarious

Warning – Spoilers   Although it was not up to the standard of Borat, Bruno is still pretty hilarious (and probably the funniest thing you will see this year), and shows Sacha Baron Cohen truly has balls of steel.   The main problem I had with the film was that many of the scenes felt set up. The chat show particularly springs to mind – I’m of the opinion that there were certain ‘plants’ in the audience who asked scripted questions, which the host obviously agreed to pick out.... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mattdavies86 at 09:56, 15 July 2009 | Report This Post


Empire have lost their reviewing power

I used to respect these reviews and take them into consideration. I don't anymore, not since late 2007. This film is not a 3 star film, its a 4 star film (at least). If there was a 4 1/2 option, it would be that, but there isn't, so I'm just going to have to put up with 4. It was funny, disturbing, and generally insightful on certain peoples attitudes towards Austrians.....and homosexuals I suppose. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RandyChimp at 23:40, 14 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Not enough real situations

nally believe that the golden rule of good film critique is –e=1]A) To talk up the finer moments – e=1]B) Highlight the flaws - e=1]C) Attempt not to incense those who HAVEN'T seen the film by giving too much away.  e=1]D) Attempt not to incense those who HAVE seen the film by saying something that you didn't like about it which is obviously of a very personal nature.  e=1] e=1]It’s especially true IF that film being reviewed – in an overall and entirely universal sense – does in... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Headpie75 at 20:15, 14 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Not enough real situations

L: mysterious ..disgusting movie are to elaborate? ... More

Posted by Bickle at 18:34, 14 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Not enough real situations

..disgusting movie ... More

Posted by mysterious at 13:58, 14 July 2009 | Report This Post


"Hi Im Bruno"

Well worth 4 stars in my book..Lets not kid ourselves (bennyblanco) your not gettin subtle comedy here..Plot line very similar too Borat that is true but for the sheer balls out scenes that Cohen has created with Bruno is pure class..No one out there is doing stuff like this...you may say its purial?? Take it for what it is...FUNNY.. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by parisstu at 11:51, 14 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Bruno

L: krudler I laughed at the Harrison Ford  interview more than anything so far in the cinema this year, a lot of it was hit and miss and the plot is almost identical to Borat but when its funny its screamingly funny. "Villhelm Schmidt" "Bradolph Pittler" ote] I giggled when he called Mel Gibson 'mein fuhrer' ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DJ Rob C: Mark II! at 23:46, 13 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Bruno (is recut and gets a 15 certificate!)

I've still not managed to see it yet, but am definately gonna try now sometime this week as...   It's being re-released on 24th July with a '15' certificate (due to younger fans demanding it apparently!) and with 1min 50seconds cut out of it.   They reckon both the '15' and '18' versions will run concurrently in cinemas but considering this is a money spinner I doubt it'll be long before the '18' is pulled completely and the '15' remains. ... More

Posted by losthighway at 22:17, 13 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Bruno

L: Lex Romero It seemed to be the same mix of set up combined with improvisation as Borat imo.  The majority of the people were there under false pretenses, maybe a couple were in on the joke, but the majority didn't know what the fuck was going on.  L: kenada_woo I dunno...it just seems like in a few sketches there's lots of cameras covering the situation in ideal spots.  The TV interview seems real to a point then goes a bit OTT with the social services woman ... More

Posted by kenada_woo at 20:57, 13 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Patchy

Cohen makes a very good redneck. ... More

Posted by Woger at 20:03, 13 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Patchy

Not seen this yet but thought I'd draw attention to ink] From next friday there'll be a recut version with a 15 cert running alongside the current one. Apparently because cinemas are having to turn away so many under 18's. Really don't know what could be behind this decison other than the rather blatant financial motive, but are those being turned away really going to be that keen to see something they know has been bowlderised? Might backfire on Universal somewhat. ... More

Posted by Scruffybobby at 19:52, 13 July 2009 | Report This Post


Patchy

Cohen is one of the best comedy writers / actors around, but this felt like it put together some hilarious comedy sketches and just padded out the rest with shock value tactics ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bennyblanco at 19:45, 13 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Bruno

My ribs were aching after the 'pilot show' scene. Funniest bit in the movie, and funniest thing i've seen for a long time. When they were saying 'we've got an exclusive interview with Harrison Ford' i was thinking, he'd never do something like this and what we actually see is bloody hilarious. And also, the virtual blowjob scene was inspired - and very brave. The other stuff in the film was funny, just not as funny as the 'pilot show' scene. A lot of scenes had potential - the 'soap show'... More

Posted by Sumintelligentguy at 19:44, 13 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Bruno

It seemed to be the same mix of set up combined with improvisation as Borat imo.  The majority of the people were there under false pretenses, maybe a couple were in on the joke, but the majority didn't know what the fuck was going on.  L: kenada_woo I dunno...it just seems like in a few sketches there's lots of cameras covering the situation in ideal spots.  The TV interview seems real to a point then goes a bit OTT with the social services woman just turning up and ... More

Posted by Lex Romero at 19:02, 13 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Bruno

L: hatebox I haven't seen it but can anyone say why it seems set up, such as the talk show scene? I'm sure it could be, just wondering what might have given it away? dunno...it just seems like in a few sketches there's lots of cameras covering the situation in ideal spots.  The TV interview seems real to a point then goes a bit OTT with the social services woman just turning up and taking the kid away...things like that seem off. The bit when they're hangcuffed together in th... More

Posted by kenada_woo at 17:32, 13 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Bruno

I haven't seen it but can anyone say why it seems set up, such as the talk show scene? I'm sure it could be, just wondering what might have given it away? ... More

Posted by hatebox at 16:29, 13 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Bruno

L: krudler I laughed at the Harrison Ford  interview more than anything so far in the cinema this year, a lot of it was hit and miss and the plot is almost identical to Borat but when its funny its screamingly funny. "Villhelm Schmidt" "Bradolph Pittler" ote]   "Fuck off !" ... More

Posted by KnightofZyryab at 15:36, 13 July 2009 | Report This Post


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