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03.30.09

Is Sacha Baron Cohen's Bruno Too Raunchy?

With outrageous sex scenes and racist humor that goes beyond Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen’s docu-comedy Bruno was just given an NC-17 rating. Can he clean up his act in time for the film’s release this summer?

Universal’s Bruno, the widely anticipated Sacha Baron Cohen docu-comedy opening in July, has been slapped with an NC-17 rating on its first submission to the Motion Picture Association of America because of numerous sexual scenes that the ratings board considers over the line, according to the studio releasing the film.

Among the objectionable scenes is one in which two naked men attempt oral sex in a hot tub, while one of them holds a baby. In another, Bruno—a gay Austrian fashionista played by Baron Cohen—appears to have anal sex with a man on camera. In another, the actor goes on a hunting trip and sneaks naked into the tent of one of the fellow hunters, an unsuspecting non-actor.

Among the objectionable scenes is one in which two naked men attempt oral sex in a hot tub, while one of them holds a baby.

A Universal spokesman confirmed the rating on Sunday, saying: "On its first submission the film did not receive an R but it is far too early to say that there is any struggle to get there as the process is only at its inception.”

Baron Cohen is accustomed to pushing boundaries. In his last hit film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the writer and actor orchestrated outrageous real-life situations that challenged anti-Semitic and other stereotypes.

With Bruno, Baron Cohen apparently goes even further, drawing a cutting comic edge that challenges homophobia and racism by embracing both. His method is a kind of cinéma vérité, drawing unsuspecting bystanders into outrageous situations, or provoking them to say outrageous things, and orchestrating NC-17 rated situations.

Individuals close to the film say that Baron Cohen, Bruno’s writer and star, is “experimenting” and still “finding the film,” and tested two different versions with audiences in the past week. Both screenings, they said, were very successful.

Read the full story at The Wrap.

Sharon Waxman is an award-winning journalist and author of the recent book Loot. She is the founder and editor in chief of the Hollywood news site TheWrap.com.