Austrians say outrageous Bruno ist pretty funny

Fri Jul 10, 2009 5:46pm EDT
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By Sylvia Westall

VIENNA (Reuters) - A shocking gay fashion reporter who dreams of being "the biggest Austrian superstar since Hitler" raised giggles when he hit Austrian cinemas on Friday despite having rankled some who say his jokes go too far.

"Bruno," a film from British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, tells the story of a hapless television journalist from the Alpine city of Klagenfurt who takes his outrageous attitude and outfits to the United States in search of fame.

The film follows Cohen's surprise 2006 box office hit "Borat," a fake documentary where he played a Kazakh journalist.

Cohen's new alter-ego has upset some for gags such as saying the "Austrian Dream" is to "have a job, find a dungeon and raise a family there" in a nod to Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who locked up and raped his daughter in a cellar over 24 years, fathering seven children with her.

"The film isn't really about Austria -- sure there were cliches but it would have been funny with an Englishman or an American," said 33-year-old Sabine Doods, coming out of a Vienna cinema. "It might make Austria famous for a little while."

Subtitled "Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt," the film uses in-your-face comedy to expose homophobia.

Bruno flees his homeland after his Velcro jumpsuit causes havoc at a fashion show and he is sacked from his Austrian job. He goes to Hollywood, adopts an African baby in exchange for an iPod and tries to get kidnapped, all in a bid for stardom.

Some gay advocates have said they are worried the film could reinforce negative stereotypes about homosexuals and a few Austrians have reacted unhappily. Austria's new envoy to Britain called for a boycott, criticizing the film's "cheap" jokes.   Continued...

<p>British actor Sacha Baron Cohen arrives for the British premiere of the film Bruno at Leicester Square in central London, June 17, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>