Fun with dick
One thing is very clear about American cinema today: You can show big dicks now, without incurring anything worse than an R rating. Back in the day, showing big cock was as forbidden as giving kids pot brownies chased by vodka for breakfast. But now, dicks are flying like doves in a John Woo movie. If things keep going at the rate they have been these past couple of years, Comedic Dick Cinema is going to get its own genre.
Brüno, the latest from British comedy outlaw Sacha Baron Cohen, not only has a lot of dick in it—it has a talking dick. Wait, let me clarify. It’s a shouting dick, and it’s a big laugh in a movie that has plenty of small-to-medium ones. Laughs, that is.
The title character is a gay, disgraced Austrian TV fashion show host who gets fired for wearing a Velcro suit on assignment. (He winds up on a high-profile walkway with many expensive garments attached to him.) He comes to America, where he looks to start a stateside version of his show.
This basically sets the stage for the same format that Cohen and director Larry Charles used in 2006 for Borat. The results aren’t as consistent, and some of the scenarios feel staged, but there are plenty of laughs to be had. It also must be said that Cohen has balls the size of Jupiter for some of the things he puts himself through for humor’s sake.
Cohen’s main mission this time out is to expose homophobes. While it’s no surprise to see redneck hunters looking insecure and uncomfortable in the presence of Brüno, it registers as quite the shock when politician and former presidential candidate Ron Paul venomously brands the man “Queer!” This moment comes after Brüno gets a little out of hand in a hotel room interview. While Paul’s nervousness might be justifiable, it’s still disconcerting to see how quickly the man resorts to hateful slurs. Did Paul sign a talent release for this movie? It doesn’t flatter him much, that’s for sure.
Cohen also has fun satirizing American celebrity, most notably Madonna and Angelina Jolie’s “accessorizing” with adopted children from foreign lands. When Brüno goes on a talk show hosted by Richard Bey, he brings his adopted black child, O.J., along for discussion. This moment feels a little fake, but that doesn’t make it any less funny. A photo of an exposed little O.J. covered with bees, resting in the arms of a heavily protected Brüno is satire at its best. Who cares about the welfare of the child, as long as that child makes the celebrity look hot … right?
As was rumored, the sequence that involved La Toya Jackson has been removed from the movie out of respect for the Jackson family in their time of mourning. Apparently, she was a victim of the same stunt that gets—or appears to get—Paula Abdul. During an interview with Brüno, Abdul is invited to sit down on his “Mexican furniture”—actual Mexicans on all fours—and eat sushi off of a Mexican’s body. She is not amused.
This is the third film based on one of Cohen’s alter egos from his Da Ali G Show. The movie Ali G Indahouse came and went in 2002, before Cohen teamed with Charles for Borat and perfected his format. Actually, Charles and Cohen should bring back Ali G. He’s probably the least recognizable of Cohen’s three characters at this point, and he could pull the wool over many an eye.
Whatever Cohen does next, he’s bound to give the folks at the MPAA some major headaches. Some will undoubtedly think this one goes too far—folks were leaving my screening, muttering on their way out. Don’t bring the kids, unless your kids like talking dicks, bleached buttholes and swinger parties, in which case it’s Sunday matinee time!