Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Borat!: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Let me be honest with you: I do not know how to write a movie review on this movie. I thought it would be helpful to go over some facts first, to figure out what we're dealing with here.

Warning, however. There are spoilers below. Meaning, knowledge of some of these facts may alter your enjoyment of the movie. Or in my case, give it license to live.

1. The title is reportedly 2nd on the longest movie title list, the first being Dr. Strangelove. That little item isn't crucial to the understanding of the movie, but it does set up the bullshit factor rather nicely.

2. British actor/writer Sacha Baron Cohen invented his character, Borat, on the 2000 show, Da Ali G show.

3. Cohen is reportedly Jewish, which doesn't explain several of the more gross scenes involving Jews.

4. In Borat's conversations with Azamat (played by Ken Davitian), they spoke an amalgam of Hebrew, Yiddish, and made-up Russian words.

5. Most of the people "interviewed" in the movie actually thought they were being interviewed. Some of them figured it out halfway through the process. Some never did. Some were actors. You figure it out.

6. I can only assume that Pamela Anderson knew what she was doing.

Okay, so, all that being said, let's talk about the plot. We first meet Borat, a fine upstanding citizen of Kazakhstan, in his native country. He introduces us to several of his family, friends and neighbors. He journeys to America with a documentary crew and interviews many people about what they do in America. Hilarity ensues.

The movie is extremely offensive to almost everyone, although a couple of "types" end up looking pretty good at the end. Fat prostitutes. Young black men hanging around. Almost all women are a slam dunk into the toilet. White men are revealed as stodgy, narrow-minded and elitist. Middle America took most of the blows, so I imagine the movie won't play well there. Or in Kazakhstan.

But I laughed during several scenes. Why? Because the movie found different ways of setting us up. When the punch-line dropped, I wasn't expecting it. For instance, when Borat goes upstairs in the home of the woman who's throwing the dinner party for him, we knew there was a toilet joke waiting for us. We just didn't know how he was going to do it. And it was damn funny. Another example: I really didn't care at all for the big, nude wrestling scene between Borat and Azamat -- it was lewd, stupid, everything you might think of such a scene. However, even in this scene, I found something really hilarious about it: they blacked out to an exaggerated degree Borat's penis. At one point, the blacked-out "tube" was longer than his leg!

You have to wonder about the filming method. If they really caught these folks unawares, and in some cases caught them with their verbal pants down around their ankles, you have to wonder about their I.Q.'s. And that *is funny.

They missed skewering a few groups. Do I smell a sequel? And you would think Pamela Anderson would have enough class to....oh, never mind.

Thumb's up, she said meekly, for the clever "interviewing," the way Cohen out-Wayans the Wayans in gross toilet humor....but only for those with strong stomachs. And those who won't take literally some of the stereotypical statements made by our tasteless hero.


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