By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Updated September 05, 2007 at 12:00 PM EDT

Well, I’ve been dreading this moment for months, but it seems like it’s finally come to pass: After months of speculative stories and artful equivocation, Variety reports that Sacha Baron Cohen’s next project is indeed a feature-length adventure starring Bruno (pictured), the gay Austrian fashion reporter he played on Da Ali G Show. And here I was, hoping all those earlier rumors were just brilliant misdirection from his real next movie.

Don’t get me wrong, I generally worship the comedic ground Baron Cohen walks on. Borat is probably one of my top 10 favorite films in any genre, and many are the hours I’ve spent watching and re-watching Ali G on HBO On Demand. I even remember some of the Bruno skits from that show fondly, like the time he goaded an unsuspecting guest into saying Burt Reynolds deserved to be deported to a Nazi death camp. But overall, Bruno was always the weakest, most shallow part of the Ali G trinity. His most uproariously inappropriate lines were nothing that Borat or Ali couldn’t do better; at the end of the day, Bruno felt suspiciously like a lazy, homophobic stereotype with none of the subversive nuance that Baron Cohen has brought to his other roles. Besides, how many people are even left in the U.S. who’d still fall for Baron Cohen’s in-character ambush shtick at this point? As PopWatch’s Gary Susman points out, “If that leaves us with a traditional, scripted movie built around this one-joke character, who’s gonna line up to see that?”

addCredit(“Da Ali G Show: Everett Collection”)

There is one ray of hope: Variety also mentions that after Bruno, Baron Cohen’s going on to shoot something called Dinner for Schmucks. I’ve never seen the French movie that it’s based on, but I’m pretty much ready to show up on opening night based on that fantastic title alone. And Variety‘spromise that “Cohen will play a character blessed with suchextraordinaryschmuckiness that he can destroy the personal life of anyone with whomhe comes in contact” just might be enough to entirely restore my faithin SBC. (By the way, “schmuckiness” is a word that ought to appear inprint a lot more often.)

Any of you P-Dubs with me in anticipating Schmucks and/or fretting over the inevitable lameness of Bruno — or am I all wrong on this one?