Ever since I saw the first trailer for Bruno, I fully expected to despise it. It just seemed so juvenile and homophobic. It didn't seem like it would have any of the charm and smart satire of Borat. I figured it would be awful, but my curiosity got the best of me and I had to see it. For most of the first 66 minutes of this 76 minute film, despite getting an occasional chuckle (a priceless scene involving Bruno at a anti-gay hate rally comes to mind), I thought I was right. However, those final ten minutes were better than anything in Borat. In particular, the closing "music video", featuring many special musical guests, is the hardest I have laughed at a film this year.
It's worth noting right now that this is NOT one for the kiddies. There is actual sex in this film. It's covered up with black boxes, but it's still there. It's probably the single most sexually explicit mainstream film I have ever come across, and is borderline pornographic at times. Those scenes are not funny, but just kind of disturbing. The fact that this did not receive an NC-17 is mind-boggling. I, despite my hatred for those bastards at the MPAA and for restricting films based on ages, believe that, under the MPAA's current (very flawed) standards, this film deserves the NC-17 rating.
I was afraid, based on the trailers and promotional material, that the film would be basically 80 minutes of gay jokes. There are indeed penis jokes galore, and there is plenty of very stupid humor, most of which I did not find funny. However, the film's main target is homophobia. Much like Borat mocked anti-Semites, rednecks, and ignorance, Bruno takes most of it's shots at homophobes. Bruno, despite engaging in some truly ridiculous and exaggerated behaviors, is a likable enough protagonist. He comes across more as a real, very flamboyant person than as a two-dimensional gay stereotype. Sure, he's pretty stereotypical, but he seems like a real person. He's just a lovable goof.
As I said, the first hour or so of the film is very inconsistent, with a few good bits but mostly mediocre or bad, but the "grand finale" makes up for those inconsistencies. Sacha Baron Cohen does a good enough job of playing Bruno. He's not Oscar-worthy, but not bad. The same can be said for the film as a whole. 7/10