Bruno: Starring Sacha Baron Cohen (SBC): Film Comment

I eagerly rented this film yesterday.

I am familiar with all of SBC’s work, especially his Ali G series on HBO. I find his ability to improvise and to create humor unmatched. My college friends and I would repeat his phrases, snap our fingers in his style and fall over in laughter. This man is a comic genius; that’s a subject not up for debate.

But I have mixed feelings after watching Bruno twice; once with SBC’s commentary. I watched all the bonus material, too.

My expectation was that SBC would have a difficult time finding novel sitautions and humor, after doing this character for such a long time on HBO and originally on UK’s channel 4. But there was no shortage of new, funny material. I almost split my sides laughing at the swinging penis at the focus group show screening. I found the swingers group and the hunting group to be creative and fertile settings for Bruno. And SBC took full advantage of every comic opportunity. I’ll leave details to your imagination, hoping that you rent it and see for yourself.

But I have one major criticism. The creation of the Borat movie introduced a rather unfortunate element into SBC’s already successful comic model. A story line. Bruno and Borat were originally just interviewers, like Ali G. However, Bruno continues the attempt at a story, which I think was executed very poorly. I agree that to make the film cohesive (something not necessary on HBO or Channel 4), there needs to be a chain throughout the hour and half of the film. But as revealed by the commentary on the DVD, the task of capturing the footage is so overwhelming; stitching together individual scenes is already daunting. Add to that the need to create real characters, with relationships, who develop and the project inevitably faces prejudice.

The supposed love story with Lutz, the brief experience with OJ (the child)… these opportunities had potential but were misfired. I do not feel like Lutz, and especially not OJ, had a chance to become real, funny or adequately portrayed. I understand the challenge, however. I just wonder why the creators made themselvesso vulnerable to this weakness.

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