While watching Brüno, I tried to keep a running tally of every penis that appeared onscreen, but the logistics quickly grew too complicated: Does it count if it's just balls? How about dildos? What if it's a penis made out of yarn? What about those strap-ons that you wear on your face?
Penises are beside the point, however. (Sorry, guys.) All of the dick jokes in Brüno—and there are many, many dick jokes—are merely hilarious window-dressing for what's ultimately a focused lampooning of self-importance in any form. Sacha Baron Cohen's Brüno is a sex-crazed gay Austrian who moves to the US for one reason only: to become famous. Because if there's anything more self-important than a celebrity, it's believing that you deserve to be one.
With the help of his sidekick Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten), Brüno concocts one get-famous-quick scheme after another. He creates a pilot for a celebrity interview TV show—which test audiences declare "worse than cancer," possibly thanks to the talking penis-hole in the end credits. (See? Does that count?!) He tries to make a sex tape, but he mistakenly approaches Ron Paul instead of RuPaul ("The guy's queer as blazes!" shouts a baffled Paul). He decides that doing charity work is a surefire path to fame, so he goes to the Middle East to reconcile Israel and Palestine. And when that fails, he tries to convince a "terrorist leader" to kidnap him.
Whatever your opinions about the authenticity of it all, the documentary style is convincing—when Brüno asks the terrorist leader why "your King Osama looks like a dirty wizard, or a homeless Santa," and the man tersely instructs him to leave, it's hard not to worry for Baron Cohen's physical safety. This speaks to the comedian's uncanny ability to create characters that are strangely likeable, even as their very existence—and all their attendant racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism—relies on the fact that they're recognizable as caricatures.
Baron Cohen is a satirical genius, and in Brüno, the sheer audacity of his stunts carries even the film's weaker scenes—it'd do a hilarious film a disservice to ruin any of the jokes here. Suffice to say that Brüno will definitely surprise you, possibly offend you, and certainly make you wonder if you and the guy behind you are laughing at the same punch line. And if that ain't good comedy, I don't know what is.