After the success of BORAT, it was only natural that Sacha Baron Cohen would go back to the well and make another film based on one of his characters from ‘Da Ali G Show’. But at this point, Cohen is a victim of his own creation and matching the shock value and surprise gags he pulled off as Borat would be nearly unattainable as the Gay, fashion obsessed Austrian, Bruno.
The plot is essentially the same as its predecessor in that Bruno (Sacha Baron Cohen) comes to America to find fame. Bruno is a dimwitted, homosexual Austrian that lives up to every gay stereotype, even though the character sheds other types of people in a negative light. To obtain his fame, he goes through several incarnations that he feels will help him find the stardom he so desperately wants. All the while, his journey is being filmed. It should also be noted that the filming of his journey was explained very well in the beginning and then the camera just seemed to stick around.
Like BORAT, the point of the film is to stick this outlandish character in uncomfortable situations and watch the natural reactions of the innocent bystanders around him. The results are a mixed bag, but the main problem I have with the film is that the jokes go on too long. The shame of it is that the basic premises of virtually all of the jokes are hilarious. I laughed out loud in the opening seconds and then found myself bored until the next gag came along. That’s partially the fault of Cohen for not planning more gags, but it’s also a limitation with the character. Unlike Borat, where Cohen could get people to delay their reaction because they wanted to be nice to the foreigner, Cohen managed to hit a nerve with people rather quickly. The problem is that he didn’t cut away as soon as that nerve was hit, he kept it going.
Instead of having the segments run on so long, Cohen would have been better served creating 20 or so different situations and having each of them go along faster. A flamboyant homosexual can get a rise out of a myriad of different groups across America and Cohen only touched on a few. Alabama and Texas are easy targets for those kind of jokes, but he could have found equally judgmental groups in other parts of the country. Cohen also spent too much time trying to make this an actual movie. It wasn’t, and the effort was wasted. We wanted him to get to the next gag and the time spent trying to elicit false emotion from the audience could have been better spent on making the movie funnier.
But I have to give credit where credit is due; Cohen managed to create some very funny situations and watching the crowd scream at the UFC fight was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while. The best part about it is that those reactions were completely natural, even if the event itself was staged. Like most of the gags, we knew where it was going, but the real audience in the film did not. Those natural reactions make the film worthwhile, even if Cohen didn’t execute the entire film to its full potential.