British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (of ‘Ali’ G fame) successfully brings his other popular TV personality to the big screen in Borat: Cultural Learning of America for Make Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
Pushing the limits of gross out humor and political correctness, Borat… is an extremely funny film even though its main character is a vulgar, grossly anti-Semitic, extremely sexist, disgusting brute that makes light about his mentally disabled brother being kept in a cage. Yet his optimism and innocence is reason to excuse his ignorant, insulting behavior: he’s just an idiot who doesn’t know any better.
Filmed as a ‘mockumentary’, Cohen plays Borat Sagdiyev, a reporter from Kazakhstan who is sent to America on a fact finding mission, where he and his documentary crew are to gather information on the ‘greatest country in the world’ and use said information to improve the social, economic and Jewish problems that are plaguing their country.
Once in America, Borat develops an unhealthy obsession with Pamela Anderson, which leads to a change in plans as he and his crew depart there base of operations in New York City, and travel by car to Los Angeles interviewing numerous people in various states along the way.
The film’s scripted moments are just as hilarious as the bits of improvisation, with the opening scene where Borat introduces his village and towns people setting the tone for what’s to come: we are acquainted with the town rapist; the kindergarten is a dirt hole filled with machine guns; a man wielding steel is the town abortionist; he introduces his sister as the fourth best prostitute in the country after a passionate kiss that puts Angelina Jolie and her brother to shame; and his wife is an overweight nut.
Yet it is the reactions from the public and the unknowing interview subjects in the USA that is the icing on the cake. A very brave performer, Cohen leaves himself open to the whim of a people whose sensitivities to the values that Borat holds dear will lead to interesting and even violent confrontations, so the potential for disaster is always high.
This does make Borat… almost excruciating to watch, as is the disgusting yet disturbingly funny fight/nude scene between Cohen and Ken Davitian (who plays Borat’s producer), and the image of Cohen parading in a yellow man-kini.
Many things can be said about American’s from this movie -mainly in regards to the extreme views of women by a group of college students and the nonchalant reactions towards Borats opinion of Jews- but one thing that is not said enough is the infinite patience shown towards Borat from many of the people he had encountered in his travels. If we weren’t living in such a politically correct society than maybe it would be a different story.
Borat… is a not only a very good comedy but is also an interesting sociological experiment as to how numerous individuals in the USA would respond to a man such as Borat, and often the reactions are interesting and vastly entertaining.