Bruno

  • Review Date: July 9, 2009
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2009

Common Sense Media says

Intentionally shocking comedy even edgier than Borat.
  • Review Date: July 9, 2009
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2009

Age(i)

NOT FOR KIDS

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

For all of its hot-button content, the movie could theoretically be seen as conveying a message about tolerance, acceptance, and the triumph of love. But it's wrapped in so much controversy and shock-value comedy that it's hard to perceive the signal in the noise.

Positive role models

Bruno -- the character -- is a fairly self-absorbed fool, possessed of a minimal understanding of the world outside his head. He's also portrayed in a very broadly stereotypical style. Many of the people he interacts with are portrayed as clueless and intolerant -- with Bruno, of course, pushing all their buttons to make them appear even more so.

Violence

An Ultimate Fighting event staged for the film features bloody, brutal blows. There's also scuffling and scrapping, and a naked woman whips a man with her belt. Bruno often runs from angry mobs.

Sex

Constant explicit discussion and depiction of sexual acts. Nude buttocks and full-frontal nudity of both genders -- though the male scenes in particular are shown in close-up and at great length. On-screen sexual acts, including depictions of penetrative sexual activity blacked out by on-screen black boxes. Discussions of homosexuality and heterosexuality. One sequence depicts a "swingers' party," including on-screen sex acts with multiple partners. Discussions of venereal diseases.

Language

Constant, strong, and inventive crude language, including "f--k," "balls," "s--t," "dick," "vagina," "p---y," "c--k," "ass," "anus," "a--hole," "anal," "piss," "goddamn," "oh my God," and much much more. Also frequent use of epithets including "white trash," "retarded," "faggot," queer," "homo," and more.

Consumerism

Apple Computer products are mentioned. Celebrities are frequently named and featured on screen.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Depictions of drinking, sometimes to excess. Smoking. Discussion of drug use, primarily Ecstasy.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this mockumentary from comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is even edgier and more sexually explicit than his previous outing, Borat. It's full of intentionally shocking material, including a startling amount of nudity (both male and female full-frontal), as well as actual sex acts (black bars block out genital areas) and lots of discussion about both sex and sexuality. And then there's the strong language (from "f--k" to "p---y"), violence (including a bloody Ultimate Fighting event), drinking, and drug references. Bottom line? Cohen's point is to expose intolerance with his extreme antics, but he does it not by just pushing the envelope, but rather setting it on fire.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Austrian fashion correspondent Bruno (Sacha Baron Cohen), exiled form his job covering the world of fashion and design, heads to America to try to become a celebrity -- assisted by his associate producer Lutz (Gustav Hammerstein), who loves Bruno from afar. When Bruno tries to carry out attention-getting antics like adopting an African baby, creating a charity single, and fostering peace in the Middle East, his failure inspires him to look deep within his soul and question what really matters.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

It's hard to have a bad time watching BRUNO -- the comedic daring that Cohen brings to the process is just too intense to ignore -- but, at the same time, it's also hard to not compare the film to Borat and find it wanting. What was once fresh now feels recycled, and Bruno has a much less coherent story than Borat's coast-to-coast journey.

Director Larry Charles still has a hand on how to craft this kind of material -- ambush interviews of unsuspecting people, moments where Bruno is pitted against the mob armed with nothing more than the misplaced courage of his idiotic convictions, and gags designed to shock -- but neither he nor Cohen nor their army of writers seem to have thought as much about the shape of the story as they did about individual bits. Episodic, scattershot, and a little unfocused, Bruno is sporadically funny, but it's hard to not think that the howls of controversy it generates will be louder than the audience's laughter. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the heterosexual Cohen's portrayal of the flamboyantly homosexual Bruno -- is it a broad, silly character or an offensive stereotype? Does a character like Bruno -- created to confront -- encourage people to talk about controversial issues or confirm prejudices?

  • Families can also talk about whether filming interview subjects who don't know they're part of a comedy is funny or cruel. Does Bruno's mockery of ignorance help the people he targets understand his point, or are they clueless "victims" of his humor?

  • And families can talk about the film's satire of celebrity culture -- are there people who will do anything to be famous? If so, what do they get from that sacrifice?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 10, 2009
DVD release date:November 17, 2009
Cast:Bono, Gustaf Hammarsten, Sacha Baron Cohen
Director:Larry Charles
Studio:Universal Pictures
Genre:Comedy
Run time:83 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity and language

This review of Bruno was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bymworker July 18, 2009
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

NOT for Teens,Tweens or even me at 45

I do not understand who is rating this movie, it has no business being R. NC-17 would be more appropriate. Rude, pornographic, and lacking any redeeming qualities. More- "I can't believe he just did that" than "isn't that clever or funny".

What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written byShannon700 July 12, 2009
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

I'm extremely disturbed that this movie was not rated NC-17

I saw this movie last night, and I am still upset that it was rated R. It makes me sick to think that any child would see this movie. Just absolutely sick.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Parent of a 14 year old Written bylestitcha July 10, 2009
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

MPAA ratings got this one way off

This definately should have been and NC-17 rating. Sure wish I'd found this website before I saw this movie!

What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Top Kids' Movies: An Essential Guide for Families