Wild social satire follows the exploits of a hyper-gay Austrian fashion reporter (Sacha Baron Cohen) as he travels to America in search of fame, and flaunts his proclivities -- and eccentricities -- to the discomfiture of many. As directed by Larry Charles, provocateur Cohen scores a few points at the expense of clueless celebrities and irresponsible parents determined to launch their babies in Hollywood, but his wince-inducing exploration of sexual mores is simplistic, excessively explicit, and includes something to offend everyone. Strong sexual content, including graphic perverse and adulterous sexual activity, full nudity, pervasive sexual and some irreverent humor, implicit acceptance of homosexual activity, much rough and some crude language. O -- morally offensive. (R) 2009
Bruno (Full Review)
Provocateur Sacha Baron Cohen explores American sexual mores -- and attitudes toward homosexuality in particular -- through the exploits of a fictional, hyper-gay Austrian fashion reporter in "Bruno" (Universal/Media Rights Capital). A few satiric hits aside, the wince-inducing results are simplistic, excessively explicit and include something to offend everyone.
Like the titular character of Cohen's 2006 comedy "Borat! Cultural Learning of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," Bruno is a caricature, in this case an effeminate pixie. (Both exaggerated personas originated on the British comedian's television series "Da Ali G. Show.")
With his career in his home country at a standstill, Bruno sashays his way to Hollywood in search of fame. There, and during interludes in Washington and the South, he flaunts his proclivities -- and eccentricities -- to the discomfiture of many, including Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul and La Toya Jackson.
Among the anonymous victims of Cohen's ambush style of parody -- assuming participants were, in fact, as unwitting as they appear -- are National Guardsmen, evangelical ministers dedicated to converting homosexuals, and a group of down-home Alabama hunters. And then there's the karate teacher Bruno hires, who compares gay men who pass for straight to terrorists infiltrating law enforcement.
While this kind of genuine homophobia is fair game, one can only sympathize with the annoyed reaction of Paul when Bruno makes advances on him and follows that up by dropping his pants, or with the irritation of one hunter when a naked Bruno tries to get into his tent in the middle of the night.
Instead of the balanced approach of Catholic teaching, which upholds the dignity of individuals afflicted with same-sex attraction while rejecting behavior condemned by both Scripture and sacred tradition, the underlying message here -- an ironic one, in light of Bruno's predatory actions -- is an implicit plea for wholesale approval.
Thus, one of the last lines in Cohen's script (co-written with Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer and Jeff Schaffer) is a song lyric that asks, with reference to Bruno: "He's gay, OK?"
As directed by Larry Charles, Cohen scores a few points at the expense of clueless celebrities, and shows up irresponsible parents determined to launch their babies in Hollywood, even at the risk of endangering them. But, in the main, his wild proceedings trivialize serious issues regarding the God-given gift of human sexuality.
These movies have been evaluated for artistic merit and moral suitability by the media reviewing division of Catholic News Service. The reviews include the CNS rating, the Motion Picture Association of America rating, and a brief synopsis of the movie.
The classifications are as follows:
A-I -- general patronage;
A-II -- adults and adolescents;
A-III -- adults;
L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. L replaces the previous classification, A-IV.
O -- morally offensive.
Note: Some movies previously were designated A-IV. Older films with this classification should be regarded as classified L.