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Now or Then – Bruno or Borat?

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Now: Bruno (2009)Then: Borat (2006)

Trailing lawsuits, ruined fashion shows, and plenty of celebrity-endorsed stunts, Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno, about a gay Austrian fashion maven’s antics across the world, represents the British-born comic’s bid to replicate the runaway success of his last mockumentary. In Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Cohen’s dim-witted, horny Kazakh journalist tried to learn more about the exotic ways of America and its citizens. So how does his latest movie stack up against its predecessor?

Our (Supposedly) Unwitting Provocateur
Bruno: Flamboyant, fame-obsessed Austrian fashionisto Bruno, convinced he has to become straight in order to be a huge celebrity, travels the US attempting to discover and replicate the rites of American heterosexuality.
Borat: Intrepid Kazakh reporter Borat Sagdiyev journeys around the US trying to learn more about ordinary Americans. His confusion over toilet customs, proper greetings, and courtship rituals lead to catastrophic misunderstandings.
Winner: Borat. As a supposedly fey European, Bruno feels like a known quantity. As an earnest emissary from a distant and unfamiliar land, Borat can get away with way more — as he demonstrates time and time again.

Stirring Up Trouble
Bruno: Bruno interviews a
martial arts instructor on the best way to fight back against a
potential attack by homosexuals. The instructor warns that they’ll
probably act really nice and attack from the rear.
Borat: Borat interviews a worker at a gun store about the best kind of gun to use against Jews. The worker recommends a Glock.
Winner: Borat. Despite the hilarity of the martial arts scene, Bruno‘s desperate attempts to expose American homophobia are only intermittently successful. A pleasant surprise, but still.

Getting Past the Velvet Rope
Bruno: Bruno gets himself
invited to a swingers’ party. He gets kicked out when he attempts to
make love to one of the men while the man is having sex with one of the
women.
Borat: Borat gets himself invited to a private dinner
at a Southern eating club. The hosts then try to teach him that
Americans frown upon such supposedly Kazakh behavior as taking bags of
poop out of the bathroom.
Winner: Borat. Bruno’s one-note
schtick is mostly about annoying his hosts, whereas Borat’s hosts’
desperate attempts to teach him how to behave snowball into sublime
comedy.

Verdict
Winner: Borat. Not even close — Bruno wants
to provoke homophobic reactions, but more often than not, his foils
seem to be responding to his stupidity rather than his gayness.

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