Jewish Journal

Cohen’s ‘Brüno’ Raises Stakes on Jewish Humor

by Naomi Pfefferman

July 8, 2009 | 4:46 pm

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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