On The Couch #15: Bruno

Wow, this has been a really bad weekend for me and movies. Four days straight of watching movies, and the best of the bunch is Couple Retreat. Couples Retreat! I could not have predicted this going into the weekend. If you check the rankings to the left, you’ll see that the bottom movie on bost lists came from the past four days.

If you judge a comedy based on how much you laugh, then Bruno is definitely a failure. I was shocked, and I mean shocked, by how unfunny the movie was based on how hilarious I thought the Borat movie was the first time I saw it. Is Sacha Baron Cohen resting on his laurels? Did he phone this one in?

Like Borat, the best comedy in this movie comes when Cohen, in his Bruno character, interacts with people who don’t know they’re being put-on. Bruno goes on a daytime talk show with an entirely African-American audience, and plays show-and-tell with the African baby he traded for a limited edition iPod. Bruno interviews Paula Abdul (and in the deleted scenes, Pete Rose and LaToya Jackson) using Mexican gardeners for chairs. He even hosts an anti-gay rally full of rednecks that turns into a man-on-man sex show. But that’s maybe 12 minutes of good content in this hour and 21 minute movie.

One of the few funny scenes in Bruno.

Unfortunately, Cohen goes for more of the shock value comedy that made for a very funny scene in Borat, but largely falls flat here. In the naked wrestling scene in Borat, I thought a lot of the comedy came from the extremely large black rectangle they used to blot out Borat’s penis. Since the movie was “made” by Borat, it came across as the fictional host running wild with his ego. Cohen saw the laughs generated by that scene though and decided to fill Bruno with numerous scenes of male genitalia and the extremes of homosexual sex, some involving Rube Goldberg-like machines. It comes across as filler though, and didn’t generate more than a few laughs from me. It’s very awkward and off-putting to watch a comedy and not hear any laughter.

The Blu-ray is packed with bonus content. There are over 40 minutes of deleted scenes. Some of the scenes are more boring and monotonous than what made it into the movie, but some are funnier than the final package. Why not include both the Pete Rose and LaToya Jackson interviews. Both showed how out of touch celebrities, even minor ones like Jackson can be. Both were more than content with sitting on bent over Mexicans as chairs, with Rose even moving one into position. LaToya Jackson was even willing to eat sushi off the body of naked Mexican gardener; she only balked once Bruno took her brother Michael’s number from her phone.

Another shining spot in the deleted scenes was Bruno’s attempt to bring about peace in the Middle East by talking to representatives from Israel and Palestine. In it, he confuses hummus and Hamas, which I thought was one of the funniest things on the disc, but after watching the hour and 21 minute movie followed by 40 minutes of deleted scenes, maybe my expectations were lowered.

If you liked Borat and you still haven’t seen Bruno, I’m guessing that like me before this weekend, you’re going to ignore any warnings about the low quality of the movie and see it anyway. But really, you’re better off without it. Don’t want to see Borat again? Watch Couples Retreat instead. At least there you’ll get a few more funnier jokes and see Kristen Davis in her underwear.
In Couples Retreat vs. Bruno, Couples Retreat wins.