Bruno: Hard-core comedy

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dresses up 3 & 1/2 Red Vines for taking real fashion risks

In the world of shock comedy, there's no question that Sacha Baron Cohen is king. But fans of his mockumentary "Borat" have probably been wondering what the actor could possibly do to top that movie. The answer is plenty..and all of it is very vulgar to say the least.

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Bruce, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - Flick Chicks Vique Rojas and Gayle Bass review "Bruno" and "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince."

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In "Bruno" Cohen plays an Austrian TV fashion show host with a dream: to become America's latest superstar sensation. The flaming fashionista tries to achieve this goal by using a variety of techniques that have worked for other stars: adopting a third world child, make a scandalous sex tape with someone famous, star in an American TV show, etc. Some of the segments are scripted; others feature clueless participants who are mercilessly 'punked'. Cohen is fearless in his pursuit of the hapless victim. From terrorists to politicians to 'good ole boys', no one is sparred a humiliating encounter with the slave to fashion. Most of the film's genuine humor comes from these encounters but so does the 'ick' factor.

It is this 'ick' factor that is the bump in the road for me. While "Borat" was essentially a fish out of water tale about a simple country bumpkin, the same cannot be said about the perverted "Bruno". There is no innocence to this character which was key to making you feel justified in laughing at others in Cohen's first film.

Don't get me wrong. "Bruno" is funny, sidesplitting funny. Full frontal nudity got laughs from me but going to the shot over and over again did not. And being a pesky fly on the wall at a swingers party might be provocative or funny but with trailer trash like this, it's just plain creepy.

It's funny to see the outraged and shocked looks on the faces of Cohen's unwitting co-stars but what gets lost in the hoopla is that the audience is getting punked by Cohen, too. In all actuality, we are the final bozos in a long line of victims. Don't believe me? Look in the mirror while you are watching "Bruno". I guarantee that at some point you will be wearing the same shocked expression that you see on the big screen.

LADIES ROOM LOWDOWN: There was plenty of audience laughter and I heard a few exiting people say they found the film funny. Lots of ads for this movie are touting great reviews from critics but the Phoenix Film Critics Society was not impressed. It couldn't even score a 7 out of a possible 10. I think Cohen's comedy approach was no longer fresh for us and way too vulgar. Personally, I'm amazed it's only rated R.

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