Posted on Monday, November 27, 2006 at 05:00 PM
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
By: S. Tran
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian
Directed By: Larry Charles
Running Time: 84 minutes
Rated: Rated R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language.
Is Nice, I Like!
Depending on how you look at it Borat is a scathing satire revealing the hypocrisy and racism underlying the polished surface of America or a movie full of stupid pranks. Either way though it hits the funny bone mercilessly. This is one of those rare movies that has the critics and the movie going masses agreeing that its a film worth seeing even if they may not quite agree why.
Unless you've been living in Borat's home town in Kazakhstan you already know that Borat is a character created by Sacha Cohen. He is a mysoginistic, racist reporter who first appeared on Cohen's "Ali G" show in England who specialized in embarrassing and confusing his interview subjects through a mix of inappropriate and embarrassing comments.
The movie (there is no way I am writing out the entire name) is a mix of real interviews conducted by Borat connected by a plot involving his quest to meet Pamela Anderson. It starts out in Borat's hometown, a run down collection of shacks where women pull ploughs and cows are kept in the living room. After he proudly introduces his sister (the number four prostitute in all of Kazakhstan) he jets off to the U.S. to try and learn about the country and bring home new ideas to help improve Kazakhstan. He is accompanied on the trip by his producer Azamat (Davitian) and the two begin their journey in New York.
In between the interviews we get to see some funny fish out of water bits involving Borat as he tries to adapt to life in America including a scene where he mistakes the elevator for his hotel room and firmly tells the bellhop that he will not move into a smaller room. Cohen does a great job staying in character as the dimwitted reporter and you never see him even come close to breaking character even when he does something that causes the people he meets to become openly hostile as during one scene at a rodeo where he mangles the U.S. national anthem.
The strongest parts of the movie are the interviews conducted in Borat's broken English with real people. Something about the bumbling reporter seems to allow people to reveal their own prejudices on camera as though they are feeling some kind of kinship with him. Whether its the gun store owner stating matter of factly that a 9mm is the best weapon for defending yourself against Jews or the frat boys...well, being frat boys. Sometimes the subjects need absolutely no help from Borat to make the audience laugh, like the humour coach trying to explain a 'not' joke. It won't make sense until you see the movie but trust me he will make you laugh by how unfunny he is. Its too bad that the interview scenes aren't longer because the flimsy plot around Pamela Anderson doesn't really work that well.
The entire film is shot mockumentary style and looks terrible on purpose. Like Borat, the film never breaks character. Cohen and his fellow film makers are determined to push the envelope in order to try and make us laugh and the movie includes a fight scene that we would rather have not seen even though I laughed so much it hurt. This is an original and funny movie that is definitely worth seeing. Even though it has some slow moments there are plenty of laughs and even a bit of insight into the underbelly of America.
4 out of 5 stars.