Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Bruno" - POParitaville Review

I went to see Bruno expecting at least a few laughs and realizing that this was not going to break new ground. What I saw was more than what I expected and touched on something more than what I thought the movie would be about. We've all seen the commercials and heard people debating. "Is Bruno too flamboyant? Will Bruno hurt stereotypes? Is it shock for shock value?" I really don't think it's about that any of that at all. What I experienced was a movie that didn't so much make fun of fashion or gay culture; this was a movie that explored the lengths that people will go to for fame.. with some comedy and a talking penis in the mix.

**Spoilers**

Bruno hosts the top Austrian fashion show and tells Germany what is cool and what isn't. Apparently autism is in. Well after interuppting Fashion Week in Milan (literally), Bruno is fired from his television show and is left by his boyfriend. Lost and alone (except for his second assistant that he always forgets about) he decides that he is going to Los Angeles to become famous. After getting a meeting with an agent he tries his hand at being an extra and crashing the set of 'Medium'. (Side note: Ironic that it's an NBC Universal show that he was able to get on or just using Universal assets?) After not being successful there he decides that he's going to start his own television gossip show to get celeberties on there. That leads to a couple of funny interactions. Including an exclusive interview with Harrison Ford outside of restaurant that lasts for one second and a great encounter with Paula Abdul. After finding out that his assistant is having the furniture delivered on the wrong date, Bruno decides to use his Mexican garders as furniture when she arrives. It is brilliant.

Needless to say the focus group for this show does not go well (the flailing and talking penis doesn't help his case.) Dumped again, this time by his agent and the studio that was considering his show, he decides it's time for something new again. He will persue a charity/cause to be involved in. After talking with two idiotic (and real) celebrity charity PR ladies he decides that he will go to the Middle East to try and bring piece. This does not go well. First being chased off, and nearly beaten, by Hasidic Jews; and then tries in vain to fix the Israli-Palestinian conflict ending with a song of peace. He also tries being kidnapped by terrorists hoping that a video that if they do, a video of him being held hostage will make it's way around the world helping make him famous. None of this works, so the obvious next step is to adopt an African baby. To me this led to probably the most shocking part of the movie and it wasn't anything he did so much. This really brought the whole idea of the movie to light. What will people do to become famous? Bruno decides he wants to have a photoshoot with his new son and goes about casting other babies to be in it as well. As he interviews the parents of these infants, he asks about putting their children in some dire situations that are so insane you would have to know that it's a joke. With almost no hesitation they say yes. You can almost see them think for a split second that, "..there is no way I'm going to let me kid be put on a crucifix." But then they see their dreams of fame and stage-parentdom slipping before their eyes so they agree to anything. Some of these photos are revealed later on a tv talk show (which is what's been on all the previews so we'll stay away from that.)

Losing the child to Child Protective Services Bruno decides he must become straight in order to truly be understood. Of course it takes him being kicked out a motel, handcuffed and strapped to his assitant, boarding a bus like that and being allegedly arrested, for him to see what he must do. This takes him on a journey through interacting with the US Army in boot camp, an overnight camping trip with some good ol'boys in Arkansas (where we see one of the cameramen take a good smack), and visit to a swingers party that re-inforces the stereo-type that most swingers are....uhh...not..uhhmmm..have a nice personality? Somethings you just can't un-see. These scenes center around an interview with a gentleman at the center of a very controversial subject. Homesexual deprogramming. Swearing to become straight, he turns into a new persona that tricks a large group of, we'll say "common folk," in Arkansas to come and see some cage fighting with a new ultra-straight tv host. These leads to some action in the ring that shows just how much the south is..well, the south. Lucky Bruno, the footage gets seen around the world and his hope of global fame comes to fruition. He is finally able to record his song of peace, and shows just how much of a sense of humor Bono, Sting and Elton John have.

**END SPOILERS, MOSTLY**

This movie does not deliver as much of the craziness of 'Borat', but it still delivers on laughs. I am amazed at the level of commitment that Sasha Baren Cohen has. It's one thing to commit for the laugh, it's another to push it and not give in. To be able to morph into a character as well as he does takes an amazing amount of talent. He is also as good as his crew is. Their level of commitment is just as great. Being in situations where your subject can easily turn on you and look to harm you takes a great level of trust. Just like Borat, Bruno helps expose peoples desire in today's culture to be famous for being famous. Whether it's attempting to make a sex tape or parents willing to let the infants be put in danger, this movie really does show where people's perceptions and desires are today. In an era of YouTube and TMZ, levels of celebrity can be attained for almost anything. The question is are you willing to sell your soul, and your child, to do it.

On the POParitaville scale, I give it a 'Check it out for some laughs before everyone ruins all the gags'.

Did you see Bruno? What are your thoughts?

Review POPped by Jungle Jesse

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