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January 5, 2010
Brüno - Un-Cut Edition Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
8/7/200910/11/2009UniversalLarry Charles
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1R18+Sacha Baron Cohen

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Brüno with his adopted baby, O.J.

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.

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Getting in the ring for some cage fighting.
Ultimately this movie just isn't funny. I can deal with the sexual overtones (and even the confrontational images) and innuendos but this movie goes way too far and enters a level that just isn't entertaining. Indeed, the full frontal male nudity is totally unnecessary, the oral sex with Milli from Milli Vanilli is terribly unfunny, and what did you expect putting two cage fighters together in a stadium filled with drunks and then have them kissing - what reaction would you expect?

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.

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Yes, Brüno even has a dildo fight!
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.

Faring little better then the video is the audio quality which is presented here in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (24-bit/48Khz). The movie is obviously very much dialogue driven and there are limitations due the cameras used to film the movie with som muffled dialogue and a lack of clarity. When the film uses music such as the opening song from Scooter the audio comes to life, but for the most part it's pretty average. Again, as with the video though it's not like you could get the participants to some post-production ADR work.

There are a few extras on this disc. Most of them involve directed or extended scenes so you can see even more craziness but the commentary was the highlight for me. The disc also includes My Scenes (which allows you to bookmark your favourite moments), D-Box motion code if you have a theatre that likes to shake!, and What's New which takes you to Universal's BD-Live Portal.

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Brüno's Middle Earth peace negotiations...
Enhanced Commentary: This PIP commentary is actually a lot more amusing then the feature movie with plenty of interesting details about production. It's great to see the real Sacha Baron Cohen appearing and speaking as himself rather then his alter ego as well as director Larry Charles. At times they pause the film in order to discuss various scenes which stretches the runtime by a bit over 25 minutes in total. There's a lot of mention of cast and crew just escaping various spots of trouble.

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.

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Brüno and Bono singing together.
An Interview with Lloyd Robinson (5:32/HD): This is actually a refreshingly honest interview with the casting agent in Hollywood who appears in Brüno. While he had heard of Borat he wasn't aware who Brüno was until well after the scenes had been filmed. I won't spoil it but how he finds out is hilarious.

Brüno isn't funny, doesn't look great and sounds just above average. I simply cannot recommend this movie to anyone unless you absolutely loved the movie at cinemas, which wasn't too many of you from what I understand. A rental at best, but get a second movie to watch when you turn this off!

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are CopyrightŠ Universal. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.