BRÜNO (Dir. Larry Charles, 2009)
Approaching the theater (Mission Valley in Raleigh) minutes before midnight, my wife and I heard many complaints coming from the crowds of college aged kids (many younger than that) mulling about in and around the line for BRÜNO. Apparently no beer was to be sold at the concession stand for the showing.
There was a sign in the window of the box office booth confirming this. My wife said "it must be because of nudity" and she was, of course, right - NC Statue 18B-1005.1 forbids the sale of alcohol on premises providing "entertainment by any person whose genitals are exposed". When a particularly jolting close-up of full-frontal (and full screen) male nudity hit the screen (accompanied by pounding rave music of course), she leaned towards me and remarked "that's why we're not able to drink."
BRÜNO is Sacha Baron Cohen's new feature length vehicle for a character from his infamous albeit brief running D Ali G Show (2000) now presented because, as the ads state, "BORAT is so 2006."
The character Brüno (there is even an umlaut over the "U" in the Universal logo at the beginning) is a flaming homosexual Austrian TV fashion reporter whose sole purpose is to get up in the face of uptight straight people and make a scene. A series of these scenes, in mockumentary format, makes up a movie as it did with BORAT. It seems that here, Cohen and director Charles intend to offend everybody that BORAT didn't get to.
While Borat came to America in order to document "cultural learnings"; Brüno comes here to become famous. He goes through every conceivable celebrity trend to achieve this goal including adopting an African baby (actually trading for him with an iPod) deciding upon a charity to lend his name to. Darfur, he accesses is taken, so he wants to know what's going to be "Dar-five."
There are many laughs throughout BRÜNO, even if you can see them coming a mile away. Baron Cohen's intense commitment to the character and quick comic timing make just about every obvious set-up tick, and there's such a strongly silly drive behind it all that's impossible to deny. But if you thought BORAT was a bit much in the crude provocative department, this is likely to be way in the red zone for your sensibilities.
The rest of us may feel guilty about laughing at such base (I may be inclined to say "brilliantly base") material but we'll still laugh. As for the intended audience, the 18-24 year old crowd which mostly made up the packed theater I attended for example, laughed in loud rawdy rapture. Imagine if there had been alcohol involved.