Returning from safari, Brüno unpacks his souvenirs before an incredulous crowd surrounding the airport baggage carousel; the trinkets include a 6-month-old African adoptee. Naturally, he uses the baby to get himself on a Springer-type TV show, infuriating a mainly African-American audience by explaining that little O.J. is his “dick magnet.” Others may be appalled when Brüno haughtily auditions a series of avid stage parents, getting them to agree to allow their babies to act on a set lit by phosphorous, work with “antiquated machinery,” dress up as Nazis, dramatize the crucifixion of Christ and, if necessary, submit to liposuction. Outrage is entertainment! Baron Cohen has predicated Brüno on the idea that Americans will do almost anything to achieve their 15 minutes of fame—as will Brüno, not to mention his inventor. What’s more, we dig it.

Funny as it is, Brüno could not be as shockingly uproarious as Borat. No matter how well retold, a joke necessarily loses explosive force the second time around. But a great gag is a thing of beauty forever—so, too, a comic performance. As the primitive Asiatic “other” Borat (at once crypto Jew and rabid anti-Semite), Baron Cohen articulated a violent antipathy, inciting the unwary to agree with him. As the sophisticated, though stupid, European “other” Brüno (at once narcissistic celeb and frantic wannabe), Baron Cohen courts that antipathy himself. In both cases, he confounds his audience, creating a persona we hate to love.

"Now if only I kann get mit Brad Pitt . . ."
"Now if only I kann get mit Brad Pitt . . ."

Brüno was directed by Larry Charles; written by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer and Jeff Schaffer; and stars Baron Cohen and Gustaf Hammarsten. Rated R. Countywide.

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