Having been adequately prepared for the lewd horrors that would await me, I finally got around to seeing Brûno in a surprisingly full theater yesterday afternoon. (My assumption that interest in the film would have petered out by the second weekend, especially for a midday showing, landed me in the second row -- bringing me a bit closer to experience than I might have preferred.) Like everyone else, I continue to be awed by Sacha Baron Cohen's incredible focus as a performer -- though did anybody catch the one moment where he cracks an inadvertent smile? It happens while Brüno is attempting to become a National Guard cadet. Anyway, I did laugh quite a bit, and smiled even more. To its credit, the movie actually gets better as it goes along, with the last twenty minute stretch probably rating the funniest.

The question everyone has been asking this week and last is whether Baron Cohen's Borat is funnier than his Brûno. The consensus answer -- which seems right to me -- is yes, absolutely. But why? Overwhelmingly, folks are blaming the fact that Brûno is more scripted, and crucial scenes appear more staged. That's true, although may I direct you to this clip of Baron Cohen on David Letterman, out of character, recounting the terrifying experience of putting Brûno in the same room with a living, breathing terrorist. And I do think the film's decreased "authenticity" has an effect. But I'd like to get your thoughts on the following...