"Bruno" opened today to reviews deeply divided between paeans and pans. In this new mockumentary, Sacha Baron Cohen plays the title character of an over-the-top gay Austrian fashion reporter determined to become world famous. "Bruno" scored only 55 at Meta Critic and just 52 among the top tier of reviews surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes.
Three years ago, Sasha Baron Cohen wowed the world with "Borat." That savage satire scored a staggering 97 among the cream of the crop of critics surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes and an impressive 89 at Meta Critic.
Baron Cohen went on to win the Golden Globe for his performance as the kooky Kazakhstan reporter. However, "Borat" was bested in the musical/comedy picture race by "Dreamgirls." Baron Cohen also shared in an adapted screenplay Oscar nod for bringing his TV character to the big screen; William Monahan won for "The Departed."
"Bruno" did earn rave reviews from the likes of Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times. But there were just as many critics – such as Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post's Ann Hornaday – who failed to find the fun in "Bruno."
However, the film is likely to be review proof. Thursday's midnight screenings of "Bruno" generated $1.6 million stateside and the movie could well top the box office chart this weekend. Three years ago, "Borat" grossed an impressive $260 million worldwide.
Sacha Baron Cohen certainly knows how to generate interest in his films. In May, he dropped in on the MTV Movie Awards dressed as Bruno. Flying through the air with less than the greatest of ease, he landed in a rather compromising position on Eminem. The rapper appeared outrage, storming out of the kudofest and generating heaps of headlines. Not surprisingly, it was soon revealed that the crash landing was actually staged and Eminem was a willing participant.
Last month, Baron Cohen attended the London premiere of "Bruno" clad in a sexed-up version of a Buckingham Palace guard's uniform. As he explained to the AP when asked about his choice of outfit, "I just wanted to do something that was flattering for the Royal Family. Something that the Queen — I'm not talking about Elton John — would really appreciate."
Photo: Universal Pictures