Jewish Journal


July 8, 2009

Cohen’s ‘Brüno’ Raises Stakes on Jewish Humor


Sacha Baron Cohenas Brüno

Sacha Baron Cohenas Brüno

Universal Pictures’ highly anticipated mock documentary, “Brüno,” opens July 10, with a story line that is as hilarious as it is controversial. But whether Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest comic opus is perceived to be provocative or offensive, homophobic or passionately pro-tolerance, this saga of a gay fashionista who aspires to become the “biggest Austrian superstar since Hitler” has some of the most sidesplitting Jewish moments of any movie of the year. Here are some favorites:

1. When Brüno fails to achieve uber-fame by solving the problems in Darfur, he comforts himself with the knowledge that “luckily, there is still one sh__hole left to fix in the world: The Middle East” (or “Middle Earth,” as he calls it). But he doesn’t make many friends while traipsing in a black hat, payot and a Speedo through a religious area in Israel, where enraged residents chase him out of the hood. 

2. Brüno conducts dialogues between Israeli and Arab leaders, including an ex-Mossad chief and a former Palestinian minister. Alas, he confuses the word “hummus” with “Hamas.”

3. Brüno decides the best way to become famous is to be kidnapped by Muslim extremists, and so visits a leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade in a refugee camp in Lebanon. “I want the best guys in the business. Al Qaeda is so 2001,” he tells the man. “Your king Osama looks like a dirty wizard or a homeless Santa Claus,” he adds. Needless to say, Brüno gets kicked out rather than kidnapped.

4. Brüno and his manager, desperate to land celebrity interviews, consult a chart they have made of top actors. There is Wilhelm Schmidt (Will Smith), Adolf Pittler (Brad Pitt) and lastly, a man Brüno calls “Der Fuhrer.” The camera pans to reveal the photograph of said star: Mel Gibson.

5. After Congressman Ron Paul pronounces Brüno a “queer,” the fashionista laments, “I couldn’t even shtup RuPaul [sic]. How am I going to get famous?

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