Sacha Baron Cohen has been amusing UK and Australian TV watchers for years with Da Ali G Show and the subsequent movie but it wasn't until 2006 when he turned one of his characters, the Kazakhstani reporter Borat, into a big screen movie that he became massively popular in America and amassing an astonishing $US261 million worldwide. Three years later and Brüno is the followup. Different character, same story?
Gay fashionista Brüno (Sacha Baron Cohen) is the host of the top-rated late night fashion show in any German-speaking country...apart from Germany. Brüno's mission? To become the biggest Austrian celebrity since Hitler. His strategy? To crisscross the globe in the hopes of finding fame and love.
Certainly contraversial with subject matter only suitable for those aged over eighteen (hence the R18+ rating in Australia) Brüno ultimately fails due to being too similar to Borat in almost every possible way but with one big difference - everything is too set up. In Borat the laughs were generated by people witnessing amusing situations or digging themselves deeper into conversations. Having a bunch of people (let's just say they are probably from Texas) view a "test screening" of a TV show starring Brüno and then swing a penis around in front of them is, of course, going to get a reaction, and why not. I mean you can't even show Janet Jackson's tit on American TV without everyone crying over there. How exactly did you expect them to react?
Even the storyline is almost a carbon copy of Borat and sees another European heading over to America this time to find stardom instead of a wife. He has an assistant, spends quite a bit of time in "Redneck" areas, and ultimately shows off the "stupidity", "naievity" and certainly the "homophobia" that still remains in America.
Admittedly there are some mildly amusing scenes in this movie including an interview with Paula Abdul about her humanitarion efforts while sitting on a Mexican (yes, a live human being), the Middle East (or Middle Earth as Brüno calls it) peace negotiations and interview with the terrorist (apparently Ayman Abu Aita is not a terrorist, and is now suing pretty much everyone associated with the movie). The one highlight of the movie though is a musical number at the end with artists such as Snoop Dogg, Elton John, Chris Martin, Bono, Sting and Slash.
From comic genius Sacha Baron Cohen this is an utter disappointment and failure. I would be surprised if too many people really loved this movie and unlike Borat, which was a box office smash, this movie took in a much more modest $US137 million - probably $130 million more then it deserved really.
Encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and presented at 1.78:1 this film has almost every single digital artifact you could ever expect from a film. Indeed there's excessive grain, noise, black crush and colour banding among others. This is somewhat understandable given that the vast majority of the footage was filmed on handheld cameras with less then ideal lighting (you can't set up lights and cameras when you're "ambushing" people). I certainly wouldn't be using this as a reference disc but the transfer given to this Blu-Ray is most likely as good as it could ever be given the source material.
Alternative Scenes (5:42/HD): Two alternate/deleted scenes are presented here including "Pete Rose" and "Politician Sex Tape".
Deleted Scenes (40:45/HD): Eleven deleted scenes are presented here including a scene with La Toya Jackson which was removed literally hours before the films premiere which happened to be on the day that Michael Jackson passed away. One "Middle East" is exclusive to Blu-Ray.
Extended Scenes (22:39/HD): Eight extended scenes are presented here and, somewhat obviously, extend what you see in the film. If you didn't like the film, you won't like these however we have to say that we loved the scene where Brüno is interviewing parents to use their children in advertising. It's crazy to see how far they will exploit their children. One scene, "National Guard" is a Blu-Ray exclusive.
Review By: Dave Warner