Brüno and His Discontents

Sacha Baron Cohen's latest satire on Americans and their beliefs holds a mirror to society while making the handfuls of gays squirm in their seats.

BY William McGuinness

July 09 2009 11:00 PM ET

I first saw Brüno on television. He floated over an audience watching the MTV Movie Awards dressed in what I think really, really gay angels might wear for a night on the town in heaven. He waved, lost control, and landed upside-down on Eminem. What was squeezed into his jockstrap in flight rested on either side of the rapper's nose for a chaotic moment before the rapper tossed the inverted gay Austrian fashion authority from his face and stormed up the aisle in a huff while millions at home either laughed or crooked their heads, wondering if it was all real.

Cohen's latest ruse, like Borat , could land on July 10 in similar fashion. Cohen courts controversy in Brüno with expertly tweezed eyebrows, Zac Efron hair, and a rump fresh from the salon.

Brüno takes the summer movie theater, an air-conditioned escape where full-bladdered toe-steppers apologize repeatedly and the chatty are snubbed out like cigarettes, and flips it to a seated chaos.

The beverages that once passively passed from cup to straw to mouth fly out of their hosts with torrents of a screaming laughter so consuming and rare it leaves sore, tearing, and avoiding the eyes attached to the head where your mouthful of soda landed three rows in front. It's often that damn funny.

But gay audience members may switch from trying to catch their breath to holding it. Brüno is America's mirror, mirror on the wall reflecting the none-too-fair snap reactions of its people -- a rhinestone-studded pink elephant in a house divided over the movement to fully socialize a stigmatized population of people. It forces characters in the movie and people who watch it to confront their feelings on gay culture. How effective this is varies from scene to scene.

Tags: film

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