First Night: Brüno, Empire, Leicester Square

3.00

Out of Austria: Brüno storms London

If intimate waxing, full-frontal nudity, Mexican "chair-people", jokes about Hitler and pygmy sex involving an exercise bike, a champagne bottle and a dustbuster make you uncomfortable, then Bruno makes for a pretty uncomfortable 90 minutes. So for most people, this will be less a popcorn movie, more an open-mouthed, watching-from-behind-your-hands movie.

Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest character, a gay Austrian fashion reporter called Bruno has been difficult to avoid of late, descending from the ceiling of the MTV Movie Awards to land - bare buttocks first - on a furious Eminem’s face and stripping off for GQ to reveal a buffed body to make Jennifer Aniston jealous. But if his ubiquity and popularity now mean that everyone is in on the joke - the MTV prank was planned with the rapper's permission - it's still a pretty funny joke.  

For the London premiere Baron Cohen walked the red carpet in Bruno's inimitable take on national dress: namely a towering bearskin, perched jauntily atop bleached blonde hair, cropped red guardsman's jacket and black leather hot pants. Introducing the film he announced that he hoped it would "undo all the negative stereotyping of the gay community done by Milk [about the gay rights activist Harvey Milk] in which the lead actor wasn't even gay."

For there have already been rumblings of concern that Bruno, rather than exposing and ridiculing homophobia (in the way that Borat lampooned anti-Semitism) might actively encourage it. While Baron Cohen used the fact that he is Jewish to deflect criticism of Borat, the fact that he is heterosexual makes Bruno a more troubling prospect. In fact, the homophobes in the film are so utterly ridiculous - the creepy "gay converter" and the anti-gay marriage protester who gets tangled up in his own "God hates Fags" banner when Bruno comes running at him in the street, naked and chained to his assistant in a bondage harness - that this will surely not be the case. The sexuality of Bruno is only one strand of a film in which Baron Cohen embarrasses, without a trace of squeamishness, everyone from pushy mothers to vacuous celebrities, belligerent television viewers and charity parasites.

Bruno is the host of "Funkyzeit", "the most important tv fashion show in any German-speaking country. Except Germany". Shunned by his home country after disgracing himself at a Milan catwalk show, where he literally brings the house down thanks to a destructively sticky velcro suit, Bruno sets out for L.A to become "the biggest Austrian superstar since Hitler". His path to fame takes in acting, an abortive attempt at a sex tape (with former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, no less), founding his own charity ("Darfur is sooo over. What's Dar-five?"), brokering Middle Eastern peace and adopting an African baby.

As with Borat, there are several, occasionally familiar, set pieces, all breathtaking in their guile - dressing his adopted son in a cropped top emblazoned with "gay-by", an explicit swingers party and a climactic cage fight which transfigures into a tender all-male love scene in front of a baying mob. But unlike Borat, the lines aren't blurred enough. Bruno and his exploits are too outrageous and, particularly in the light of the Eminem episode, no longer believable. Without the worrisome, compelling ring of truth, these big scenes drag a little.

He's better at the smaller jokes, when he reins himself in a little. There's a brilliant moment when he confuses Hamas with humous during peace talks and a fabulous baby audition montage. Watching Bruno trying to blend in as an extra is a joy as is his tv magazine show, which includes an item discussing the famous foetuses of pregnant celebrities.

The film ends with a charity record for which the great and the good come out to parody themselves as they've done before on Comic Relief and Ricky Gervais' Extras. This unoriginal finale feels like Baron Cohen's last big blowout, an indulgent if deserved goodbye to a triumphant trilogy of spoofs - Ali G, Borat and Bruno - which have now, surely, reached the end of the line. Still, I can't wait to see what he does next.

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game