Friday, July 10, 2009

when brüno met dieter

Teutonic Twins: Baron Cohen’s “Brüno” (above) owes its life to Myers' "Sprockets" (below)
Simply put, “Brüno” is "Borat" by way of "Sprockets."

Stylistically and in terms of its narrative drive, the new collaboration of star-auteur Sasha Baron Cohen and director Larry Charles is nearly indistinguishable from their "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" (2006), only not as special, given that, well, this schtick has already been done. And done better.

But the character of Brüno himself is a near replica of Mike Myers' Dieter creation, the West German television talk show host that Myers whipped up with Dana Anderson for the Second City sketch troupe and which became a recurring character during Myers' run on "Saturday Night Live." Surely, you remember, the aloof miminalist "Sprockets" host demanding that his reluctant guests pet his monkey, Klaus. "Touch him! Love him! Liebe meine abschmenkee!"

Deiter was marginally funny then and Brüno is marginally funny now.

The bottom line is, Brüno is essentially a sexed-up Dieter - no more, no less. But, wait, back to "Brüno" and "Borat"...

Both are episodic, although "Brüno" is noticeably more scattered with comic sequences that come to no natural conclusion - i.e., most end without a punchline. They just ... stop. Abruptly. But what really sets these two apart is that Baron Cohen's shallow, celebrity-fixated opportunitist isn't nearly as likable as his crazed journalist from Kazakhstan. But then rampaging narcissists are rarely amusing.

As Dieter often said: "Your story has become tiresome. Please leave."

Note in Passing: Oddly enough, Myers once planned to bring his Dieter/"Sprockets" character to the big screen for Universal Pictures and Image Entertainment (the Ron Howard/Brian Glazer company). There was a contentious lawsuit when he decided to pass on the film. Universal is also the production company that produced and released "Brüno."


John Kaiser said...

The more I saw of Bruno on TV recently, the more I realized that this would not be as fun as "Borat". The article in Newsweek said it all.

Larry said...

Yeah, the resemblence is uncanny. Another lawsuit?

Samuel said...

Dieter was a parody of the foreign, artsy, pretentious people. Dieter was a simple spoof. Bruno is a character meant to be a vessel to make a couple social points and some sex jokes. The fact that these characters both talk funny isn't really a gigantic similarity.

Dieter was a character who never was very developed. Bruno is given a story and a goal.

The thesis that these characters are one in the same is really unfounded, and you don't really try to illuminate the similarites in any way.

joe baltake said...


I apprerciate what you're saying, but your logic is a bit off. Of course, Deiter was never developed; the proposed movie about him was never made.

The only reason Brüno may seem more three-dimension to you (he isn't actually) is strictly because of the new film.

Both he and Deiter started off as sketch characters and Brüno remains a sketch character, despite the movie that now surrounds him.

Also, get something straight: I never said that either one talks funny. That's your opinion, not mine.

Jeff said...

This film will have its die-hard fans, even though it is only a dim imitation of "Borat." People will blindly laugh, thinking it's actually funny. It isn't

Toby said...

Samuel: What's so funny about the way they talk? One is German the other is Austrian.

Bobby said...

Laugh out Loud (lol) at you and your website that you point your Rotten Tomatoes review to this slop.

You have clearly never seen the movie, and are making a very generic comparison here.

Even the Transformers had the Gobots stupid.

Please stop mucking up the Rotten Tomato system by negatively rating a movie you have not seen.

joe baltake said...

Hey, Bobby- Thanks for reading me both here and on Rotten Tomatoes. I'm flattered. And to quell your fears, yes, I did see the movie - although it's somewhat of a stretch to call it a "movie."

Tiny Tim said...

I just hope Sacha doesn't sh!t out anything like the "Love Guru" anytime soon..

Anonymous said...

Oh, just wait,I'm sure he will.

jbryant said...

Joe: We must also thank Bobby for helpfully pointing out what LOL stands for.

Gotta say, though, I found Bruno to be pretty funny. I don't think it's as conceptually strong as Borat, nor as focused, but I laughed a lot (and yes, I'm counting laughs of the "I can't believe I just saw that" variety).

I see your point about Dieter. There's a particular similarity in the glimpse we get of Bruno's Austrian show (the scene with the autism gag). But as Samuel suggests, Dieter spoofs a strain of conceptual art, while Bruno skewers celeb culture, so I would absolve Baron Cohen from being a rip-off artist, even if Myers did inspire him in some way.

joe baltake said...

Actually, Jay, I somewhat enjoyed "Brüno" during its performance. My wife loved it. But I became aware of how each comic sequence went nowhere, absolutely nowhere. In retrospect, it keeps going down in my mind. I think I'll pass on Sasha's next auteurist provocation.