The conceit here is that Brüno is host of "Funkyzeit Mit Bruno," a trend-setting Austrian fashion show that plays like a
Brüno craves fame. He wants to be "the biggest Austrian superstar since Hitler." But when his TV show is canceled after a backstage fashion show debacle (a worthy target), he loses his lover, Diesel, and his direction. How can he become famous now?
Maybe by making peace in the
Or maybe, if he wants to become "the biggest gay movie star since Schwarzenegger," he needs to emulate such stars as "
And no, you don't want to know what a "swinger's club" in rural Alabama looks like. But Brüno does.
The targets seem more hapless this time --
By the time we visit a
Baron Cohen and his partner in ambush-interviewing, Larry Charles of "Borat" and "
There's a love story between the star and his adoring assistant (Gustaf Hammarsten) that doesn't play, but does show off their command of German and Hammarsten's willingness to go just as far as Baron Cohen, when the chips are down.
The better bits are the Ali G-ish chats with quarreling Middle East factions.
"Isn't pita bread the real enemy?"
There are plenty of laughs, a few of them explosive. Baron Cohen's determination to let uncomfortable pauses and the unblinking camera get under the veneer of civility of his subjects can be hilarious.
But too often, Brüno feels like Borat's weak-wristed brother, too much of it just a gay cliche aimed straight at the American bigot belt. An elaborate set-up with fans of blood-sport "cage-matches" can seem both brave and pathetic. These aren't the best and the brightest that we're laughing at here.
We could fret over all the movies Sacha Baron Cohen could have followed "Borat" and "Sweeney Todd" with, but at least "Brüno" closes the book on this part of his career. At this point, there's nobody worth fooling who still will be fooled by his shtick.