I'm a big fan of "Da Ali G Show," where Sacha Baron Cohen plays 3 characters in short scenes that wrap up in half an hour. But, having seen "Borat" and now "Bruno," I have to admit I don't want to watch one of the characters for 90 minutes, especially "Bruno." I'm not a fan of story arcs. I love disjointed little bits. I like Bruno as the Austrian fashion reporter with the microphone in his hand. People who want to get on TV and to appear trendy will tumble into agreement with praise for Hitler or take direction that makes them look gay. (Here's an example I find especially funny.) But in the movie "Bruno," Bruno is fired from that job and comes to America to try to get famous again. That's not much of a story. It's just a narrative thread to connect different scenes — possibly generated after many of the scenes were filmed.
But why am I complaining? Didn't I just say I liked disjointed little bits? Well, but now Bruno is kind of down and out, and much of it is Sacha Baron Cohen trying to show us what Americans are really like. Fortunately or unfortunately, Americans failed to give him the homophobia footage he seems to have hoped for. I'm sure a ton of unfunny footage was thrown out, and that what went into the film was the closest he could get to hilarious, but most of these Americans simply remained stone-faced and tried to preserve their professionalism and dignity in the face of a very clownish man. Cohen did what he could — for example, wielding multiple big dildoes at a martial arts instructor — to goad people into flipping out about the gay guy, but — other than getting Ron Paul to blurt out "queer" twice — it just wasn't happening.
And the struggling Bruno can't be so outrageously bitchy. He wants people to help him. He's needy. He's more like Borat. But he's not lovable. I don't want him lovable. The Bruno I like needs to believe he's wielding power so he is able to trick people into showing their desire to leverage their fame through him. We see that in the movie in the one scene where some parents are trying to get their little kids hired as models. They think Bruno has some showbiz power, and they grovel before it. One woman is ready to make her 30 pound daughter lose 10 pounds in one week and to submit to liposuction if she can't get all that weight off. Now, that was something! It would be daring as hell to have 90-minutes on that level of pain. But that wouldn't be too funny, and it wouldn't be a blockbuster.