bruno 173x300 Bruno Is a Bust at Boxoffice    Hes No BoratBruno — the skanky, over-publicized and underwritten gag character — is a bust at the boxoffice.

After 12 days in release, Sacha Baron Cohen’s sometimes funny, often not gay send up with Mel Brooks overtones (and not the good ones) has grossed. just $52 million domestically.

By contrast, “Borat,” Bruno’s older, wiser, smarter cousin, had $72 million in the till at the end of its 12th day. “Borat” went on to earn a total of $128 million in the U.S. “Bruno” will be lucky to hit $75 million–very lucky.

Of course, “Bruno” is not the spectacular dud that “I Love You, Beth Cooper” has turned out to be with only $11.5 million in ticket sales for the same time period. I’ve rarely seen such brutal reviews as there were for this misguided enterprise. And there’s also “Land of the Lost,” with less than $50 million after 50 days.

But “Bruno” will be one for the study classes. Cohen overhyped this thing beyond any and all expectations. Months before “Bruno” was released, you felt like you’d already seen it. And then when you did see it, it was coarse, vulgar, in bad taste, and really just bad. “Borat” was all those things, too, but it had heart, and structure. “Bruno” lacked direction. It was just a battering ram to the senses. And a disgusting one.

Where was all the sublime wink-wink undercurrent of “Borat”? In “Bruno” you felt the desperation once Cohen launched himself onto Eminem at the MTV Movie Awards. Wasn’t that what Howard Stern did years ago? Wasn’t Cohen supposed to be more sophisticated than that? One of the many great moves with “Borat” was that it just snuck up on us. There was no overkill. First in Cannes it was a cult hit. It was cool. Then it came to America with some buzz. With “Bruno,” not to make a sick joke, it was just forced down our throats.

Maybe it’s time for Cohen to just do some acting, as he did in “Sweeney Todd,” and give the candid camera thing a rest. We get it. People are stupid. They fall for tricks easily. There are plenty of hicks, racists, and idiots out there. And now not only have we seen them, we feel sorry for them.

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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