Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
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The brilliant British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen dips into his stable of pre-existing characters and comes up with a big-screen vehicle for Brüno, a gay Austrian fashionista. Brüno is blond, fame-hungry, and prone to wearing unexpected combinations of lederhosen and hot pants. But it's his runway disaster with an all-Velcro suit that gets him barred from the Milan fashion scene and leads to the cancellation of his TV show. ("For the second time in a century, Austria had turned on its most famous man," he complains.) Clearly, he needs to go to America and share his philosophy--or at least become a celebrity in whatever way possible. Brüno rolls out in a fashion similar to Borat, a combination of a scripted through-line interspersed with scenes of Baron Cohen improvising with people who don't realize they're being set up, Candid Camera-style. About half the time, this reaps some healthy laughs: a sequence with Brüno sitting down for a conversation with a "de-programmer" who claims to cure people of their homosexuality is on-topic, and there's a wild series of interviews with parents so desperate to get their kiddies into showbiz they'll agree to all manner of dangerous and irresponsible childcare. A lot of the humor isn't about Brüno's gayness at all; Baron Cohen is at his best when displaying freakish comic bravery (sitting across from a terrorist, he advises that "Your King Osama looks like a dirty wizard"). But the other half of Brüno simply misses the movie's best targets--homophobia and celebrity culture--by miscalculating the nature of ambush comedy. When Baron Cohen gets former Presidential candidate Ron Paul in a hotel room and begins to undress, Paul isn't showing bigotry by storming out (except in his language); he's understandably reacting to obnoxious behavior in a supposedly professional situation. Too many set-ups fall short of the mother-lode pay dirt that Borat so frequently hit, leaving this a distinctly le