Sacha Baron Cohen's follow-up to his widely successful and controversial Borat hits theaters Friday. Called Bruno, it chronicles the adventures of an extremely gay Austrian fashionista (played by Baron Cohen) who comes to Hollywood to be a star. Like Borat before him, Bruno sets out to expose people's prejudices, this time about homosexuality. Since the film has a similar formula, comparisons between the two are unavoidable. Here's a sampling of what critics are saying about Bruno:
"Bruno is a no-holds-barred comedy permitting several holds I had not dreamed of. The needle on my internal Laugh Meter went haywire, bouncing among hilarity, appreciation, shock, admiration, disgust, disbelief and appalled incredulity. Here is a film that is 82 minutes long and doesn’t contain 30 boring seconds."
-- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"Compared with Borat — and it’s impossible to avoid the comparison — there simply isn’t enough to the character to build an entire feature-length film around Bruno... Bruno is a one-joke character in a one-joke movie, and it’s a joke Baron Cohen beats into the ground. He’s a flamboyantly homosexual Austrian fashion correspondent who repeatedly shocks people with his flamboyant homosexuality. The end."
-- Christy Lemire, Associated Press
"Baron Cohen is a genuine comic guerrilla, charging right to the front lines of the war against prejudice and sanctimony. What’s open to debate is whether he’s also a comic gorilla—a cheap-shot artist, a mauler. Is Bruno riotous? Yes, more so than Borat, in which Baron Cohen’s targets were ducks in a barrel and largely undeserving of ridicule. He doesn’t aim much higher here, but his tricks are more inventive and his butts—so to speak—more defended."
-- David Edelstein, New York magazine
"Borat scored its sensation not only due to its comedic audacity and Cohen's sangfroid, but because it convincingly presented ordinary people's reactions to the star's myriad incitements. Even though the format is similar here, with Bruno appearing in unlikely places to surprise the unsuspecting, the suspicion persists that most of the sequences were staged, with the majority of the participants in on the gag or even portrayed by actors."
-- Todd McCarthy, Variety
"Make no mistake, much of it is squirm-inducing. It's at times genuinely uncomfortable to watch, but that's part of the humor... It's definitely not for everyone, but for those who get it, it's a twisted sort of brilliance... Still, if Bruno is not quite up to the lofty standards of Borat, it is daring and sometimes insightful. And I laughed out loud, a lot, which is doubtless Baron Cohen's ultimate goal, anyway."
-- Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic
"Borat was, despite his cheerful bigotry, somehow a lovable character. His questions sprang from the sweet innocence of a third-world bumpkin wallowing in isolated ignorance. With Bruno, you mostly feel annoyed... We all knew Borat. Borat was a friend of ours. Bruno, you're no Borat."
-- Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter