In the line outside the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Austin, Tex., everyone wondered if the 22-minute sneak peek at Sacha Baron Cohen’s new film Bruno would be worth it. Could the Borat provocateur get away with fleecing new crowds? Would his ultra-gay character Bruno, "the most important cable TV fashion reporter in any German-speaking country besides Germany," feel fresh and valuable and hilarious?
People, I howled. The South By Southwest festival crowd was given three tastes of what to come, in three separate scenes:
Scene 1: Bruno has adopted a baby from Africa, in the hopes that it will up his cache in Hollywood. He plans a provocative photo shoot, and needs additional rugrats as props. In his audition process, he interviews various wide-eyed Moms as to their offspring’s commitment to art. One woman promises him that her 30-pount child could lose 10 pounds in seven days if it meant she got the part. Liposuction? Fine! Yes! Bruno warns one mother that the shoot will involve her toddler dressed up as a Nazi officer pushing a wheelbarrow with a baby Jew in it straight into an oven. If it’s for art, she replies, and for a check, hooray!
Scene 2: Bruno arrives in a "ghastly s—hole called Texas." (The fellow Texans in my audience gave this line a round of applause. What’s wrong with us?) Bruno appears on a crap daytime talk show called "Today With Richard Bey," appealing to a largely African American audience. He swans onto the stage for a segment devoted to single parents, blabbing about how his adopted African baby boy is a "dick magnet" and that he traded his iPod for the kid. The audience wanted his hide. Then a gleeful producer wheels out a gorgeous little black baby boy wearing a "Gayby" T-shirt and leather pants. Bruno declares that he’s named his son O.J. — child protective services intervenes.