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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Larry Charles
Cast:
Sacha Baron Cohen, Various
Writing Credits:
Sacha Baron Cohen (and character, story), Anthony Hines (and story), Dan Mazer (and story), Jeff Schaffer, Dan Mazer (story)

Tagline:
Borat was so 2006.

Synopsis:
Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Da Ali G Show and Talladega Nights) brings you the comedy that has started more conversations, generated more controversy and dared to go further than ever before!

As Bruno travels the world in search of fame, everyone he encounters - celebrities, politicians, Hasidic Jews, terrorists and cage fighters - becomes a stepping-stone to stardom, with hilarious results!

Box Office:
Budget
$42 million.
Opening Weekend
$30.619 million on 2756 screens.
Domestic Gross
$59.992 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
English DVS Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 82 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 11/17/2009

Bonus:
• “Enhanced Commentary” with Director Larry Charles and Actor/Writer Sacha Baron Cohen
• Alternative/Deleted/Extended Scenes
• “Interview with Hollywood Agent Lloyd Robinson” Featurette
• Digital Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Brüno [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 10, 2009)

With 2006’s Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen’s style of Candid Camera-style comedy reached the mainstream. The film earned $128 million and became something of a cultural phenomenon.

Cohen’s problem: the success of the Borat character made a sequel impossible. Much of the film’s appeal came from the way that “Borat” interacted with real people. Though clearly some – much? – of it was staged, enough of the movie generated laughs via the mixture of character and reality that a challenge emerged. Cohen couldn’t venture into the world as Borat and expect people to believe him anymore.

Borat isn’t Cohen’s only character, of course. He originally earned fame via flashy Brit street dude Ali G, but I suspect that character’s run his course. This meant Cohen dug into another of his roles: a gay Austrian “fashionista” named Brüno.

Many expected Borat level receipts for Brüno, but they failed to emerge. It ended up with a smidgen under $60 million, but that was a heavily “front-loaded” take; the flick earned more than half its final gross during its opening weekend. Borat did well due to great word of mouth, but Brüno clearly didn’t benefit from the same kind of popular support.

Given the film’s style, doesn’t have much of a plot. After a fashion show disaster, the designers blacklist Brüno and he loses his TV program. Rather than retreat, Brüno heads to America. The movie documents his adventures as he and his assistant’s assistant Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten) go to LA so he can try to become a major star.

I suspect I could’ve simply duplicated my review of Borat and called it a day, as Brüno hews very closely to its predecessors format. It takes on a faux documentary style as it follows Brüno’s non-PC adventures. This means plenty of allegedly real-life encounters.

Which again becomes a major distraction – or it could be if you have any actual interest in the material. When I watched Borat, I found it impossible to suspend disbelief because I constantly wondered what was real and what was fake.

That was less of a concern during Brüno because I found myself even less interested in the footage. At least Borat had a novelty factor in its favor, but Brüno feels like little more than a minor reworking of its predecessor. Both use various conceits to get their leads among “real people” – most of whom will be offended by the shenanigans of Brüno/Borat – and they even enjoy similar story arcs and scenes. As in Borat, Brüno finds an excuse to put its lead on his own, and the wrestling scene reminds me an awful lot of the rodeo sequence from Borat.

The déjà vu factor might not be as bothersome if the movie provided laughs. Brüno scores the occasional chuckle, but too much of it just isn’t very funny. Cohen has real talent, but here he’s too preoccupied with attempts at outrageousness. Cohen goes un-PC just for its own sake, and the gags lack bite.

Oh, I suppose that some will argue that Brüno makes a point about society. In particular, it picks on homophobic tendencies. Of course, it does so in the easiest way possible. Rather than attempt to expose homophobia in less likely quarters, it focuses on anti-gay sentiment among religious fanatics and rednecks.

Does it shock anyone that those groups aren’t wild about gays? I kind of doubt it, so Brüno doesn’t exactly expose any hidden truths. Instead, it just takes the easy road to predictable laughs.

The film fares a little better when it pokes fun at show business. In maybe the movie’s best bit, it shows a new program in which Brüno and a co-host examine celebrity sonograms and rate them. That gag gives us a biting take on the celebrity gossip industry and demonstrates actual cleverness. However, even then, the film goes too far when it has the pair vote to “keep it or abort it”. It’s a funny bit until it goes down the totally tasteless path.

I hope that the film’s disappointing box office returns means we don’t get more of Cohen’s faux documentary films. The man has plenty of talent but he’d be better off making a more conventional flick. Borat wasn’t very good either, but Brüno establishes that this particular well has run dry.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Brüno appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Despite some challenges provided by a variety of filming conditions, the flick usually looked very good.

The vast majority of the time, sharpness seemed satisfying. Most of the movie appeared concise and detailed. When the film went with lower quality cameras for its “undercover” shots, it became less precise, but that was inevitable, so I didn’t mind these lapses. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and the only edge haloes that showed up resulted from some video artifacts. Source flaws were absent; some graininess occurred, but that was a minor concern.

Colors tended to be satisfying. The movie went with a natural palette that only became a little iffy during those shots with lower quality equipment. Most of the film exhibited lively hues. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows usually seemed fine; again, the shooting conditions occasionally meant things were a bit iffy, but they were good most of the time. This wasn’t reference material, but it was strong enough for a “B+”.

I also liked the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Brüno. Music offered the most involving material, as effects played a fairly minor role. Most of those elements came from on-the-spot recording, so they didn’t do much to open up the spectrum. However, music used all five channels well. The track spread the tunes and score around the room in a pleasing manner that added life to the proceedings.

Audio quality was solid. Again, music was the best aspect of the track, as the tunes always sounded lively and full. Speech was consistently concise and crisp, without edginess or other issues. Effects didn’t have much to do, but they appeared acceptably accurate. Nothing here dazzled, but the track deserved a “B”.

In terms of extras, we get an enhanced commentary from actor/writer Sacha Baron Cohen and director Larry Charles. What makes it “enhanced”? Occasionally, Cohen and Charles halt the movie to tell extended stories about various scenes. This means that the commentary runs about 27 minutes longer than the movie itself.

During the track, Cohen and Charles discuss sets and locations, cast and performances, staging and shooting various sequences, censorship issues, music and costumes, challenges staying incognito, and various tales from the production. The commentary is substantially more interesting than the movie itself. Cohen and especially Charles tend to congratulate themselves a little too much, as they tell us about the flick’s social commentary and insight.

Otherwise, this is an entertaining glimpse at the unusual production. They let us know the details of how they staged the various sequences and set things straight about who was and wasn’t in on the joke. I’m not sure I believe all of their claims, but I still appreciate the information. We find a consistently enjoyable chat here.

Next we find scads of Alternative/Deleted/Extended Scenes. Added together, these areas give us 21 sequences; in total, they run one hour, nine minutes and six seconds. Given the amount of footage found here, I won’t discuss all of it. We get alternative subjects for some existing scenes. For instance, we see interviews with Pete Rose and LaToya Jackson instead of Paula Abdul, and we find a few other conservatives instead of Ron Paul.

Possibly the most significant deleted sequence shows an alternate break-up between Diesel and Brüno. This occurs during an interview with a white supremacist, and it extends into a sequence with some football players. Most of the sequences cover fairly familiar territory; they include a variety of different subjects but don’t veer away from the material seen in the final film.

This means that if you like Brüno, you’ll enjoy these scenes, and if you don’t… well, you’re largely out of luck. Actually, even though I didn’t care for the flick, I think some of the clips offer entertainment. In a weird way, the footage is funnier when taken out of the flick’s semi-story-based framework; it comes across as somewhat less contrived. The cut scenes won’t win over any new fans, but there’s some good stuff here.

Finally, we find an Interview with Hollywood Agent Lloyd Robinson. In the film, he attempts to get Brüno various show business jobs. During this five-minute and 32-second clip, Robinson talks about his limited awareness of Borat and his experiences as an unwitting comedic foil in Brüno. Robinson has a good sense of humor about the shoot, so he offers a nice perspective on the flick.

The apparently inescapable Digital Copy shows up here as well. With this, you can transfer the film onto a portable viewing gadget or a computer. Yabba dabba doo!

After the huge success of Borat, most thought Brüno would be another hit. Nope – it made less than half of its predecessor’s take and sank like a stone. Hopefully that means the US public has wised up and decided that Sacha Baron Cohen’s style of guerilla comedy is more interested in being crude than it is in being funny. The Blu-ray provides very good picture plus solid audio. It doesn’t feature a ton of supplements, but the included components are interesting. While this is a nice release, I don’t care for the movie itself, so I can’t recommend Brüno for anyone who doesn’t already dig the flick.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.2857 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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