I don’t really like comparing things, which deserve to be judged on their own merits, but in certain situations comparisons are inevitable and this is one. Bruno is the latest project of comedic genius Sacha Braron Cohen who brought us Ali G and more recently the hugely successful and controversial Borat. After Borat pushed the boundaries with his insight into American society, the stereotypes within that society and their interpretations on foreign culture we expected more of the same from Bruno, a flamboyant Austrian homosexual bidding to get uber-famous.
Bruno follows an identical pattern to Borat; the eponymous hero voyages across America in pursuit of a goal which is fairly irrelevant in the grand scheme of the film as the humour centres on his encounters along the way and the reactions drawn from his ludicrous behaviour. Don’t get me wrong I thought Bruno was hilarious at points and is one of the funniest films I’ve seen this year but those who go expecting the same heights as Borat may be disappointed for a number of reasons.
The character Borat is better thought-out and gives Cohen more scope to work his comedic magic. A reporter from Kazakhstan who knows nothing of US culture and who subscribes to extremely anti-Semitic and chauvinistic beliefs offers more layers of humour than an Austrian fashion guru who simply acts as gay as possible at all times. The Americans didn’t know how to react to Borat and their reluctance to offend his heritage provided some utterly hilarious scenes and illustrated Cohen’s ability to manipulate the gullible and the confused.
While Bruno also works off a basis of shocking and cringe worthy humour it lacks the imagination and variety of Borat. After an hour of Cohen prancing around in revealing costumes it becomes somewhat stale and predictable. Some of the more outrageous scenes did have me in stitches but in Bruno, Cohen needed to push the boundaries further to get the laughs. Borat’s story is also more appealing, his quest to marry Pamela Anderson shows a greater degree of originality than Bruno’s common desire to become world famous.
It seemed that Bruno contained many more staged or scripted scenarios simply because his actions were so extreme it’s impossible to imagine he wasn’t working alongside actors. For the majority of Borat the authenticty of his subjects is plain for all to see. Even down to minute details such as the mannerisms of both characters Borat seems to edge Bruno, the loud cries of “HIGH FIVE” and “vury nice” just hit the funny bone that bit harder than “Ich bin Bruno” and “mein fuhrer”.
If you’re not easily offended and are a fan of Cohen’s work to date I would strongly recommend Bruno. It offers a brand of humour which we have all come to expect from Cohen and his performance is as strong as ever…even if his character isn’t.