SXSW Sneak Peek: Brüno


Universal previewed three full scenes last night from Sacha Baron Cohen’s upcoming follow-up to Borat with video introductions from the man himself. If you’re a Borat fan and were worried that Cohen had lost the anonymity necessary to dupe stereotypical Americans with humorous results, rest assured Bruno is fucking hilarious. And if you’re someone (like me) who thought Borat wasn’t nearly as good as the hype led you to believe, again, rest assured that Bruno is still fucking hilarious.

Cohen as Bruno, the gay, Austrian, fashion designer, is obviously center stage here, but most of the comedy comes from the situations he creates and the people who unknowingly expose themselves as complete and utter tools. Cohen greeted the SXSW audience with a jaunty version of his own British accent, and introduces each segment with a brief description. The film’s plot follows Brüno’s attempt to become the “biggest Austrian celebrity since Hitler” which requires adopting a black baby from Africa and pretending to be the straightest man in the US. Synopses for each of the three scenes are below.

First up is a casting session for the baby’s celebrity photo shoot with actual mothers and fathers trying to get their infants or toddlers into the spread. He discusses the details of the shoot with them and asks if they and their children are okay with certain things… like loud noises, music with no rhythm, bees, komodo dragons, and being thrown from a four story building. The parents all say yes with only a couple hesitating before eventually agreeing. He tells one woman her child will be dressed like a Nazi pushing a wheelbarrow with a Jewish child inside. She says yes of course, it’s for dramatic purposes. Bruno asks another parent how much her child weighs, and they reply “about 30 lbs.” He replies that they’re looking for the next Nicole Richie, not the next Scarlett Johanssen, so can her daughter lose ten pounds in the next week? I’ll let you guess the mother’s reply…

Next up is Brüno’s guest appearance on The Richard Bey Show (think low-rent Jerry Springer) as a single parent in search of a mate. The crowd of mostly black audience members accepts his entrance with applause, but he starts to lose them almost immediately with the revelation that he’s looking for a black man to be his partner. Things go downhill from there as his adopted African baby is brought out wearing a half-shirt with the word “Gayby” on it. And then photos appear on screens in front of the audience including pictures of the child crucified like Christ and hanging out in a hot tub with four naked, adult men…

The final scene focuses on Brüno’s attempt to present a heterosexual persona to the American public. He becomes “Straight Dave”, the camouflage and cowboy hat-wearing host of “Straight Dave’s Man Slamming Max Out.” Think MFC ultimate fighting and you’ll have a sense of what the audience around the caged-in ring are expecting. Brüno (as Straight Dave) enters the ring with a series of testosterone-induced statements, and riles up the crowd with pro American and pro heterosexual chants. Brüno ends up in a fight reminiscent of his epic and fleshy battle from Borat, except this time the combatants are dressed… until they start kissing and the clothes start coming off. It’s absolutely magical to watch the crowd move from drunken glee to shock, disgust, anger, and rage in a matter of seconds. The various reaction shots are priceless.

Brüno deserves to have an even bigger and better reception than Borat did at the box office when it opens this summer. Cohen once again shines a light on average Americans, and once again he’ll be criticized for doing so. But there’s no denying the power or importance of that light. These are real people (with possibly a couple exceptions) and there’s no excuse for their behavior. It is what it is… Hilarious. Eye-opening. Depressing. And at the very least, expect to see people walking around this summer with T-shirts proclaiming that “My asshole’s just for shitting.” Americans are a proud people…

For more of the best SXSW Film 2009 coverage on the web, keep it locked to our official SXSW ’09 homepage.

Rob is the Chief Film Critic of Film School Rejects. He doesn't eat cheese on weekdays.

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