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'Brüno' aims for the funny bone, crotch

In the radio business, guys like Sacha Baron Cohen's Brüno are called "shock jocks," at least in semi-polite society.

Howard Stern is the best on the airwaves, of course.  But the prodding, do-almost anything veteran radio personality (now holding court on satellite radio) mostly paints vulgarity with words.

Cohen, especially this time out, flops his, uh, humor right out there in vivid detail; almost to the point of being in our faces.  Thank God this 82-minute, squirm-in-your-seat ride isn't in 3-D.  (Oh, the humanity!) 

With "Brüno," as it was with "Borat" three years ago, the British comedian flings graphic nudity and shock-and-awe vulgarity onto a mainstream movie screen near you.

That said, know this.  "Brüno" is funny. 
Cohen's follow up to unabashed outrageousness is not quite "Borat" funny, but it's shockingly clever enough to make anyone tough enough to hang around laugh out loud more than once.

Once again, Cohen draws on one of his outlandish characters from "Da Ali G Show," which first aired in this country on HBO in 2003. 
"Borat" got Borat, Cohen's lampoon of a Kazakh journalist loose in the U.S.  He ups the ante with Brüno, an openly gay fashionista and host of Austria's late-night fashion show "Funkyzeit Mit Brüno" (complete with broken German and subtitles). 
Since Cohen, who co-wrote the script with Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer and Jeff Schaffer, is well-aware that savvy movie-goers might be on to his corral-and-shock style of so-called "guerrilla" filmmaking, "Brüno" goes straight for the comedy crotch, so to speak. 

The title character cavorting in graphic sex scenes arrived near the end of "Borat," and served as the gut-reaction comic knock-out punch.

Not this time.  Brüno begins the cinematic evening with a vigorous sexual romp with his "pygmy" boyfriend Diesel (Clifford Baňagale) and marches into more offensive, confrontational territory post haste. 

By the way, if anything you're read in this review so far offends you, forgive me.  But if you can't handle this, you have no business wasting your money on the movie itself.

Pretending to be straight, Brüno tricks a martial arts instructor into showing him how to defend himself against gay attackers (waving sex devices at the guy the entire time).  He also disrupts a swingers' sex party and even drops trou on an increasingly seething presidential candidate Ron Paul in a Washington, D.C. hotel room.

Once again, the Deep South suffers the most.  Drunk rednecks in Arkansas prove that the South will rise again when a clamoring crowd out for blood gets tricked into watching two men -- one is Cohen, of course -- caress tenderly. 
Who can blame them?  The very vocal local majority had been expecting straight guys to beat the crap out of each other in a cage fight.

And so it goes.  The formula remains the same for "Brüno." Veteran director Larry Charles, who called the low blows on "Borat," returns for more.  It's just more blatant and exaggerated each time out.

From here, we can only guess which will happen first:  Cohen running out of new character disguises to dupe the unsuspecting, or Cohen getting snuffed trying to top himself. 


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