Brüno’s tagline claims “Borat was so 2006.” And in a way, Sacha Baron Cohen’s follow-up to his hit comedy about a horny Kazakhstanian on a U.S. road trip is a little different. But in so many other ways, Brüno is a lot like the wildly hilarious Borat. For one thing, Cohen and director Larry Charles take their camera into the real world, capturing real people’s reactions to the very real things happening in front of them. Last time Cohen brought a bag of his feces to the dinner table; this time he has his anus bleached while fielding a phone call from his agent. Cohen plays super-gay Austrian TV fashion-show host Brüno, who heads to L.A. to become famous — “the biggest Austrian superstar since Hitler,” he says. Like Borat, he manages to dupe and get under the skin of various homophobes, celebs and pretentious assholes. And like Borat, there’s more set pieces than plot here. Brüno crashes a fashion-show catwalk. Brüno plays an extra on the TV show Medium. Brüno interviews Paula Abdul. Brüno interviews (and comes on to) Ron Paul. Brüno adopts an African baby (who he names OJ). Brüno joins two swinging couples on their sex night. It’s totally funny and totally gay. There’s really no way to top Borat, so Cohen goes for more offensive laughs. Thought Borat’s wrestling scene was too much? Wait till you see Brüno’s. And while Cohen takes it kinda easy on a minister who promises to make the flamboyant Brüno straight (the lispy-accented Brüno does tell the “gay converter” that he has great “blow-job lips”), his hunting trip with a bunch of Southern good ol’ boys is uncomfortably brilliant. *** 1/2
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