American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"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. There should be a brief segment at the next Spirit Awards with John Waters conferring the Knighthood of Bad Taste to Sacha Baron Cohen. If he decides to tap Cohen on each shoulder with his sword, I want to have my eyes closed.
To describe Cohen’s character Bruno as flamboyantly gay would be an understatement. He makes Bruce Vilanch seem like Mike Ditka. Bruno is disgraced in his native Austria when he wears a Velcro suit to Fashion Week and sticks to backdrops, curtains and models. It’s slapstick worthy of Jerry Lewis. Then he flies to Los Angeles with Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten), his loyal worshipper, vowing to become a celebrity.
As in his 2006 hit "Borat," Cohen places his character into situations involving targets who may not be in on the joke, and have never heard of Bruno or, for that matter, Sacha Baron Cohen. Some of the situations may be set up with actors, but most are manifestly the real thing. I include an interview in which Bruno lures Rep. Ron Paul into a hotel room, his appearance on a Dallas TV morning show, the screening of a TV pilot before a focus group, counseling with two Alabama ministers dedicated to “curing” homosexuals and a gay wrestling match before a crowd that is dangerously real.
The setups include an interview with Paula Abdul and originally included one with LaToya Jackson, which was cut because of her brother’s death. That accounts for the running time being three minutes shorter that at the movie’s London opening. I also believe those are real parents at interviews trying to get their babies hired for a proposed film — mothers who say their babies are ready to work with pyrotechnics, dress as Nazis or be strapped to a cross. These moms want their babies to be stars.