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Coffee Break: Vasssssup?!

July 22, 2009

by Madison Shimoda
Coffee Break: Vasssssup?!

The summer flick I was most looking forward to was Brüno. As a fan of Sasha Baron Cohen’s other creations (Ali G, Borat, etc.) I could not wait to see the Austrian, self-proclaimed 19 year-old, fashion reporter for Austrian Gay TV in his own eponymous movie. My friends and I watched the trailer on a daily basis the month before it was released and memorized every line (Dolce & Gabbana, of course. Hallo?). We bought our opening night tickets weeks in advance and made our Brüno viewing night an event. The movie opens with Vassap! I’m Brüno. I’m at Milan fashion veek! and immediately draws laughter from the audience. It goes downhill from there. I loved Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan but didn’t expect the plotlines for the two movies to be exactly the same. Replace Borat with Brüno, his producer Azamat Bagatov with Bruno’s assistant’s assistant, Lutz—and voila you have the same movie…except not as stimulating. While Borat was clearly satirical, Brüno steps a fine line between making fun of homophobes and being homophobic—and sometimes it seems to cross that line. The gratuitous sex scene between Brüno and his pygmy boyfriend in the beginning of the movie seemed to reinforce, rather than mock, the stigma attached to homosexual intercourse. “Some scenes were unnecessarily vulgar,” said one of my homosexual friends. “I would have probably felt the same way, regardless of my sexual orientation.” The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has denounced the movie for reinforcing negative stereotypes even after the movie got rid of some of its more questionable scenes.

That said, the movie wasn’t without its strengths. As usual, Baron Cohen was spot on with his portrayal of his crazy characters, in this case, Brüno, and there were some great lines from the movie—unfortunately most of them all shown in the trailer.

In a sense, Baron Cohen’s popularity in the United States is a blessing and a curse because he was constantly recognized everywhere he went. (Rumors are, he was banned from every show at New York and Paris fashion week, thus giving the movie less of a fashion focus than on Baron Cohen’s TV show.) Would there be a next Ali G or Borat movie? Only if Baron Cohen goes to a country where he isn’t recognized—watch out for an Ali G in Japan.

2 stars/5 stars

Coming up next time:  Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

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