Sacha Baron Cohen's Brüno targets true nature of celebrity

U.K. comic succeeds again at creating a persona we hate to love

Something to offend everyone: Sacha Baron Cohen as Brüno
Mark Schwartzbard
Something to offend everyone: Sacha Baron Cohen as Brüno

Funny as it is, Brüno could not be as shockingly uproarious as Borat. No matter how well retold, a joke necessarily loses explosive force the second time around. But a great gag is a thing of beauty forever—so, too, a comic performance. As the primitive Asiatic "other" Borat (at once crypto Jew and rabid anti-Semite), Baron Cohen articulated a violent antipathy, inciting the unwary to agree with him. As the sophisticated, though stupid, European "other" Brüno (at once narcissistic celeb and frantic wannabe), Baron Cohen courts that antipathy himself. In both cases, he confounds his audience, creating a persona we hate to love. 

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