From the first disco salvo heralding Sacha Baron Cohen as Brüno‘s subject, resplendent in hot canary lederhosen, to his final triumph before a rabble of wrestling fans bellowing “straight pride,” Brüno is vulgar vaudeville of the highest order. With the straight world as his straight man, Brüno’s irrepressible outré sexuality is only the most provocative aspect of his mad exhibitionism. Brüno burlesques homophobia the way Borat did anti-Semitism, but its true subject is the nature of celebrity. Brüno is predicated on the idea that Americans will do almost anything to achieve their 15 minutes of fame. To the degree that Brüno has a plot, it follows its fashionista to Hollywood, where Brüno hopes to become “the biggest Austrian superstar since Hitler.” Like any star, Baron Cohen resolves contradictions — he’s an open-minded bigot, an honest con man, a clever fool, and a performer whose crudeness is filled with grace. Brüno attests to the actor’s skill at verbal and physical comedy. He is a superb clown, not to mention fearless — prancing into a “God Hates Fags” demonstration and cruising a group of backwood hunters (whom he compares with “the Sex and the City girls”). Funny as it is, Brüno could not be as shockingly uproarious as Borat. No matter how well retold, a joke necessarily loses explosive force the second time around. But a great gag is a thing of beauty forever.

Categories: Movies