Bruno Draws Mixed Reviews From Critics

Sacha Baron Cohen's Bruno (in theaters today) has received mixed reactions from critics.

The controversial comedy -- which features Cohen as a flamboyant Austrian fashion designer -- has been deemed everything from "mean-spirited" to "brilliant."

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"Assuming outlandish guises, gulling the gullible and piling on the transgressive jokes, including plenty of gay-panic-inducing antics, is Sacha Baron Cohen's shtick," writes James Verniere in the Boston Herald. "Well, the shtick is getting a bit short, already.

"The result, directed once again by Larry Charles and co-scripted by Cohen, is like an Austin Powers movie without the characters, plot or story line. That'll be 10 bucks, sucker," continues the Herald critic.

Adds CNN: "Perhaps inspired by another Cohen creation, Ali G, he sets out to make a celebrity interview show -- but sadly, the only dupes ignorant enough to participate are American Idol judges and presidential candidates [Ron Paul is inadvertently cast in a sex tape]."

The New York Times calls Cohen a "brilliant slapstick artist and a master of voices -- Bruno's mock-German and scrambled American idioms are in some ways even more crazily spot-on than Borat's gibberish."

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But the paper isn't won over by the movie.

"In spite of Mr. Baron Cohen's...high-level skills and keen low-comic instincts, Bruno is a lazy piece of work that panders more than it provokes," writes critic A.O. Scott.

The The Hollywood Reporter calls Cohen's ambushes "too often...mean-spirited.

"We sense, as we never did with Borat, the comic behind the character. Especially when his accent keeps changing -- from an unconvincing Austrian to his own British and even to a whisper of Borat himself," it writes.

But Entertainment Weekly grades the film "A-" and says it's "funnier than Borat."

"The entire film is in seriously questionable taste, and there will, of course, be debates about what's staged and what's not. Those looking for purity in satire should stay away. Yet there's a vision at work in Bruno -- the movie is a toxic dart aimed at the spangly new heart of American hypocrisy: our fake-tolerant, fake-charitable, fake-liberated-yet-still madly-closeted fame culture. Bruno ends on a note of scandalously funny out-and-proud triumph."

Variety bets the flick will open to high box office figures, calling it "undeniably funny, outrageous and boundary-pushing."

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But the controversial content will turn off some moviegoers, the magazine points out.

"There is also a pronounced nasty streak to the innumerable provocations staged by the title character that curdles the laughs and wears out the ... Austrian fashionista's welcome within the picture's brief 82-minute running time," Variety wrote.

Tell Us: Will you see Bruno this weekend?