Borat (2006) (R)
To give it its full name, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America to Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" is a movie mainly about the curious little corners you can find in America, and how people act in those corners when presented by a videocamera and someone claiming to be of a different culture. Somehow you begin to get faith in humanity when certain people don't immediately turn violent with some of the more horrifying gags in the movie...then again, when Sacha Baron Cohen gets up at a rodeo and proclaims that he hopes that President Bush crushes his enemies and drinks their blood and he is greeted with a thunderous applause, maybe some of that faith was misplaced.
Maybe the reason that I find "Brüno" funnier is because it has more "real life" gags in it than "Borat" which consists of more plot. Perhaps that's a good thing, but I didn't find it as funny.
Starting off in Kazakhstan, we meet Borat (Cohen) who is sent to America to make a documentary so that he can learn the ways of the USA and report it back to his country so that they can become superpowers as well. Immediately, "Borat" is an offensive piece that deals in ugly and vulgar stereotypes and it's pretty damn funny as well.
There's antisemitism, homophobia, misogyny and just plain ol' Cohen being an asshole. You shouldn't expect anything less.
After his plane lands in America, Borat accompanied by producer Azamat (Ken Davitian) travel around New York looking for ways to improve their country. In doing so, Borat meets with a group of feminists and you can probably guess how that goes over. Then, in an effort to make himself funnier, he meets with a humor coach and that goes about as well as the feminist party did.
When he is in his hotel room, Borat discovers reruns of "Baywatch" and falls head over heels in love with Pamela Anderson and he decides that he will travel to California and marry her.
Convincing his producer to do this is not so easy, so Borat lies to him and claims that this is all for the documentary. Oh yeah, and they pick up a bear along the way.
At first, "Borat" seemed like a staged nightmare with scenes back in Kazakhstan depicting such monstrosities as "the running of the Jew" in which a goblin-like creature would try to catch someone with money. Then, we the movie gets to America, we see Cohen where he really shines: in awkward and improvised situations. The "real-life" aspect of the movie can become questionable at times; but at others it simply doesn't matter because it's funny.
"Borat" starts to mock the rednecks, the "uncultured", the Christians, the conservatives, and the younger generations. One scene shows Borat getting picked up by frat boys and the result of that scene is nothing if not disturbing.
If you identify with any of those, I would suggest sticking clear of "Borat"; but my guess is also that if you do identify with those, you wouldn't be watching the movie anyway.
"Borat" is funny, but I think it could have been funnier. The whole "I must get to Pamela Anderson" thing is actually funny; but it wears off quickly. There are moments when the film drags a bit and times when the jokes could have been funnier. It's smarter than it appears for sure, but that's Cohen for you.
Larry Charles directs the movie and one wonders how present he was for the shooting...random thoughts.
Anyways..."Borat" is designed to shock you and to make you laugh and I think it succeeds on both fronts quite well.
Posted by Micah Jones