Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Video review: "Brüno"

It's best to think of "Brüno" as a sequel to "Borat," since it's the same basic comedy recipe: Sacha Baron Cohen goes around America posing as an outrageous character doing incredibly offensive things to see how people will react.

Instead of a woman-hating Kazakh, this time he plays Brüno, an Austrian male model and television host so flamboyantly gay, stage queens would find his behavior over the top.

Among his escapades, Brüno adopts an African baby and totes him around like a fashion accessory; drops his pants and attempts to seduce presidential candidate Ron Paul; gets into a dildo fight with a martial-arts instructor; gets evicted from a swingers' sex party; conducts an interview with Israeli and Palestinian officials in which he confuses the terms Hamas and hummus; and engages in a cage fighting match before a crowd of bloodthirsty hillbillies, and proceeds to make out with his opponent.

Sometimes the results are hilarious, but other times they're just cringe-inducing. Embarrassment is Baron Cohen's stock in trade, and sometimes he's the one who should feel ashamed.

The video extras are quite good, especially the commentary track with Baron Cohen and director Larry Charles, which is actually funnier than the movie itself.

In both the Blu-ray and DVD versions, they stop the action to discuss the real-life backstory or consequences to a given scene, such as Baron Cohen's arrest after stumbling onto the runway of a fashion show. The Blu-ray commentary also includes pop-up video of the pair.

Favorite tidbit: The revelation that Harrison Ford, who delivers a two-word brush-off to Brüno, was the only subject filmed who was in on the joke.

There's also more than an hour of deleted, extended or alternate scenes. We get to see the LaToya Jackson scene where migrant workers are used as furniture -- and she actually eats the sushi served on a man's hairy bod! Pete Rose is less amiable in the same setting, though.

The Ron Paul trick is pulled on John Bolton, Tom Ridge and Gary Bauer -- and this time, it's actually funny.

Movie: 2.5 stars
Extras: 3.5 stars

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