Sascha Baron-Cohen took the world by storm with the fiercely funny "Borat", his docu-style comedy that watches his character travel through America trying to learn about the country (and in the process, getting some very shocked and unexpected reactions from various real people, some of whom were none-too-pleased after they realized they weren't in on the joke.)
Once again, Baron creates a character and inhabits it in a way that few comedic talents these days can. This time around, Cohen plays Bruno, a host of a fashion show on Austrian TV show is far more famous in his own mind than he appears to be in the rest of the world. While he's on top of the fashion world as the movie begins, it's not long before an incident at a fashion show (he wears a velcro suit and manages to get himself stuck to everything, then tumbles onto the catwalk) gets him thrown out of the scene.
Not one to give up, Bruno decides to head off to Los Angeles to become "the biggest star since Schwartzenegger." After hooking up with a talent agent who couldn't be further away from getting the gag. Shortly after, he gets an interview with Paula Abdul, who doesn't seem to get the gag even when she has to sit on a person to do the interview and lunch is wheeled in with a person serving as a plate.
While Bruno tries to film a pilot for TV, the test audience is quickly horrified. He, not surprisingly, breaks into the test screening and fields responses from the shocked crowd, one of whom commented that the only way that he would be famous is if he made a sex tape. When the next scene is Bruno interviewing senator (and former Presidential candidate) Ron Paul, one can guess where things are headed (although Paul - who storms out of the room yelling - certainly did not.) At the end, Bruno reveals that he thought it was Rupaul who he was interviewing.
The movie has the framework of a story (there's almost less story here than there was in "Borat", and that's one of the film's few flaws - it doesn't flow quite as well as "Borat" did, although this film certainly pushes the envelope further), but largely is made up of situations where Cohen as Bruno sets up a scenario that would likely shock most people, yet the response is often as shocking as the question. Bruno tries to set up a photo shoot staring babies and asks one of the mothers if she could get the 30 pound child to lose 10 pounds in the week (and if that didn't work, use lipo.) The mother's response, without any sort of hesitation, is yes.
What's remarkable about Cohen is the commitment to character - once again, he truly disappears into the creation and manages to keep a straight face (although in the commentary Cohen admits he almost broke up during one scene where he is speaking to a group of women at a PR firm who do not seem to understand who they're helping - the commentary notes that the scene is real) even when some of these situations spiral out of control and become incredibly uncomfortable. What's also impressive is Cohen's fast wit - some of the responses he comes up with on-the-fly are truly inspired. Out with a bunch of hunters in the South, he - out of the blue - compares the group to the characters in "Sex and the City".
Cohen and director Larry Charles ("Borat", "Curb Your Enthusiam", "Seinfeld") once again have created a comedic assault that's both hilarious and astonishing. A few bits that push things too far seem forced and don't get laughs, but the majority of the movie works well.
Note: the film is rated R, but it's certainly a VERY strong R.
VIDEO: "Bruno" is presented by Universal in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. With some scenes appearing to have been filmed with smaller and/or low-budget cameras in order to keep filming hidden or low-key, quality can vary. Sharpness and detail are satisfactory during most bright/daylight sequences, but some of the low-light moments can look a tad fuzzy and grainy.
SOUND: The show's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation delivers what one might expect from this sort of fare: surrounds are almost never put to use, and the great majority of the presentation is dialogue-driven. Audio quality is fine, with crisp, well-recorded speech.
EXTRAS: Actor Sascha Baron Cohen and director Larry Charles offer up a commentary for the movie. The commentary has a few uneven moments (there's a few dry spots and a few moments of silence), but the track is mostly an excellent look at how the two were able to accomplish some of the scenes in the movie - including one scene where the stunt person distracted security. We also learn more about trying to work around an NC-17, the reality of some moments and some of the more unusual (and occasionally terrifying) obstacles. At times, the movie pauses (and there are picture-in-picture moments) while the two keep chatting. Definitely worth a listen.
Also included are about an hour's worth of deleted/extended/alternate scenes, as well as an interview with talent agent Lloyd Robinson.
Final Thoughts: While "Bruno" goes overboard on a few occasions, the movie is otherwise another funny effort from actor Sascha Baron-Cohen (who continues to be a master at creating characters and fully inhabiting them, even in the some most painfully uncomfortable situations imaginable.) The DVD offers satisfactory audio/video quality, along with some very nice extras. Recommended (although again, keep in mind the film pushes the boundaries of the "R" rating.)
The Film B+