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  Publicity Stills of "Borat"
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Genre: Comedy
Director: Larry Charles
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen
RunTime: 1 hr 24 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: R21 (Coarse Language and Nudity)

Opening Day: 28 December 2006


In “BORAT …” Sacha Baron Cohen - star of HBO’s hit comedy “Da Ali G Show,” takes his outrageous Kazakstani reporter character Borat to the big screen. In this hilariously offensive movie, Borat travels from his primitive home in Kazakhstan to the U.S. to make a documentary. On his cross-country road-trip, Borat meets real people in real situations with hysterical consequences.

Movie Review:

“Borat” (I’m tired just thinking about the entire title so let’s just use the abbreviation) is a truly funny and utterly outrageous mockumentary that has rightfully made its star (Sacha Baron Cohen) a phenomenon. Cohen and comedy stalwart, Larry Charles are either the bravest souls on television or the most cavalier. It delivers more knockout punches in its opening act than most billed comedies have in their entire running time (sequels included). It starts out with a purposeful but not all that difficult premise of uprooting the wavering perception of the United States of America’s open policy and social cohesion in regards to race and religion.

It also prides itself on eliciting legitimate responses (well, mostly legitimate) from its subjects that range from unwise wizened Texans, college frat boys to Pentecostal churchgoers in an apparent effort to ridicule and I suppose to expose the hypocrisies of the American collective. But what starts out as a preceding imperative to satirise the extreme right-wingers and clenched up patrons of “morality and decency” slowly turns into a disappointing afterthought in the middle of its comic snuff that takes out any one caught in Borat Sagdiyev’s maelstrom.

Pushing the boundaries and expounding on the then undisclosed aspects of the Borat’s life in Kazakhstan, the film starts off in a small village where he reveals himself to be a celebrity in his country, a proud brother of the third best whore in Kazakhstan and the unhappy husband of a growling ogre of a wife. He tells us of his impending journey to the U-S of A where he’ll bring back the “cultural learnings of America for make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan” by way of a documentary record. To aid him in his endeavours is Azamat (Ken Davitian), his overweight producer with one eye on the budget and the other on the roadmap. Taking a detour from the deeply cynical East Coast, they embark on an episodic road trip that leads them through the heart of the country from the Deep South to Los Angeles in the pursuit of romantic explosions. Even with a constant structure and a neatly stacked narrative, “Borat” most resembles a refined “Jackass” and “Punk’d” hybrid especially in its outrageousness that’s probably only equaled by the courage shown by its more than willing cast and crew that predictably risked physical harm.

And not for nothing, but there is an ugly undercurrent of exploitation and an inflated sense of superiority in “Borat” that is probably easy to ignore amidst the barrage of laughter and its mask of being an equal opportunity offender. It works its charms by removing the audience from its subject, seducing them first by reassuring them that by laughing at the silly racists and homophobes and that they are actually laughing at their own insecurities. But are they really?

The real concern is that there is a lack of distinction being made between ignorance and truly odious opines. While its chilling to see a reasonably presentable man call for capital punishment in cases of homosexualism and disappointing to see the collegiate drunkenly ruing the end of slavery and sexism, it’s also as equally vile to see people that refuse to be drawn into Borat’s game be goaded into becoming caricatures for the camera especially when we aren’t privy to the elaborate falsehoods that were told before the release forms were signed. And what about those that that mean well and those who want to give Borat the benefit of the doubt due to his perceived naiveté? Instead they get pushed to their breaking points in order to get the response that the crew wants.

Those who now think that I have missed the point of this “social exercise” are wrong. I find the repulsive nature of prejudice off-putting as much as the next person, and respect Cohen’s abilities as Kaufman-esque comedian to the extent of backing him for any Best Actor awards regardless of the apparent novelty factor. But do I necessary have to approve or even cheer on someone who deceives his way into making a salient and frankly, hypocritical point about exposing the real truths while watching him dole out punishment via humiliation to the ignorant “racists” and the overly conservatives that Cohen does not approve of?

Movie Rating:

(Its mile-a-minute gags are absurdly hilarious but the laughter rings hollow)

Review by Justin Deimen


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