Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen
Directed by: Larry Charles
Release date: July 10
Three years ago, Baron Cohen spiked America’s punch bowl with his merry-prankster comedy Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, obliterating all manner of racial, ethnic, and political taboos and reaping $129 million in grosses (in every sense of the word) — not to mention a raft of lawsuits. Plans were quickly announced for a comedy based on another of Baron Cohen’s stealth-comedy characters, the gay Austrian fashion reporter Brüno. But after Borat successfully lured unsuspecting people into his satirical trap, some wondered if the now-infamous Baron Cohen could possibly pull off such a brazen, high-risk stunt again. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, you’ve got a franchise.
Well, he’s baaaack! Transplanting Brüno from the cult HBO series Da Ali G Show to the big screen, Baron Cohen (reunited with Borat director Charles) again sets out to detonate our notions of political correctness in the name of jaw-dropping comedy. Early in the development process, producer Jay Roach hinted at the deeper levels of Brüno. ”There’s an aspect of the story that is even more layered than Borat,” Roach told EW. ”Brüno is a guy trying to decide what’s cool because he himself is constantly wrestling with his own identity — almost like Andy Warhol.”
The film is being kept tightly under wraps, but at last month’s SXSW festival in Austin, Universal screened about 20 minutes of footage, including scenes of the ever-trendy Brüno adopting an African baby (whom he names O.J.) and making out with another man before an audience of rabid (and homophobic) Ultimate Fighting fans. By all accounts, the scenes were greeted with shock and awe. In early April, the film’s red-band trailer debuted online and quickly became a viral phenomenon. Not surprisingly, however, the guardians of cinematic propriety at the MPAA have been less amused, slapping an early cut of Brüno with an NC-17 rating. It is now being reedited in hopes of landing an R. Whatever the rating, prepare to have some cultural sensitivities brüised.