Thursday, July 23, 2009
Day 184: Brüno (2009) - Rank 4/5
Ah, Sacha Baron Cohen - a modern day, common man's Peter Sellers with a raunchy repertoire. It's fair to say that "Bruno" is nothing more than a stupid movie, because it is. Not that it bothers me, mind you. Just as a workaholic indulges in a night of relaxation and beers among friends now and again, the movie-minded enjoy an hour and a half of mindless entertainment to unwind between complex films. If you were to claim to me that you never watched any low-brow comedy, be it a Jackass film or a Mel Brooks productions, then I would call you a lie and promptly force you to watch the courtroom scene from "Ernest Goes to Jail" (for I contend that even the stone-hearted can't help but crack a grin at that slapstick gold).
So when it comes to assessing "Bruno," I cannot help but measure it against "Borat" for the two films are certainly comparable with one another. "Bruno" follows the same basic premise as "Borat, except Baron plays a flaming German rather than a bumbling Kazakhstan immigrant. Furthermore, while the alleged intent of Baron's first endeavor was to illustrate (in a hilarious awry) the intolerance many Americans have towards other races, "Bruno" seeks to out the close-minded attitudes people have towards the openly gay. In both cases, it's evident that Cohen is stacking the cards in his favor by cherry picking the most racist individuals he can for exploitation purposes. However, I was hoping that "Bruno" would push the envelope a little more than it did.
Cohen stuck with the exact same formula - a fish out of water is followed as he quests across America. It made far better sense in "Borat," for the titular character was starring in his own documentary within the film (and parodying low-budget foreign television as well). With "Bruno," the plot seemed more incidental, like a weak attempt to link a series of vignettes (much the way a plot is almost unnecessary in a porno). Did it hinder me from enjoying the film? Certainly not. There were points where I found myself gasping for air because I had laughed so much. But what I am saying is I will be disappointed if Cohen stays at the level of humor he's at now and never gets edgier. You might say: "He had a penis filling the screen, screaming his name. How can he get more edgy than that?" Well, consider this: yes, the viewing audience of "Bruno" watched Cohen gyrate between sequences of dancing dicks, but we saw this as it was shown to a test group in the film. We can laugh at it, because we're laughing at how he's trying to intentionally offend a handful of uptight adults. We were in on the joke, so we found it easy to laugh. But what if we weren't in on the joke? What if you had to sit through that without being in on the joke? That would put every ticket holder in the place of the half dozen victims of the film...it would make everyone who saw the film the butt of the joke rather than a "bystander" in on the joke. People would either laugh or be pissed off and demand their money back. It would be the critics who would say: "How can a guy like that get his own movie?" rather than the offended test group. It might sounds crazy, but making the audience the victims is the next logical step in this humor line (which, considering that was my logic behind "Callus' Birthday Party," I suppose that puts me on the cutting edge). Personally, I look forward to that happening should it ever occur. But until it does, I'm sure I'll continue to laugh my ass off at his shenanigans.
Watch the Trailer