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Published November 2nd, 2006 | by Raam Tarat

Borat Review

Classification: 15 Director: Larry Charles Rating: 4.5/5

“In Kazakhstan we have many hobbies: disco dancing, archery, rape and table tennis…”

It’s exactly this type of puerile humour that has had Borat’s detractor’s wondering what the hell is so funny about this movie, and had people talking so much. A hugely brave move on behalf of the movie’s distributors’ Fox to preview the film so early on, and also showing their supreme confidence in it – and boy has the word of mouth done it wonders.

Jagmeshash!! …to one of the funniest, un-pc and gob-smackingly audacious films to be screened this year. The plot such as it is, involves naïve Kazakhstan journalist Borat Sagdiyev sent to the USA in order to report on what makes the country so great. He kisses every man on both cheeks, sometimes on the lips, but treats women with little respect.

“Kazakhstan is more civilised now. Women can now travel on inside of bus, and homosexuals no longer have to wear blue hat.”

Alongside his sidekick cum producer Azamat (a surreal Davitian) he travels to New York and then across the United States, leaving a trail of unsuspecting victims in their wake, in this gasp-inducing mockumentary. Insensitive Borat always speaks his mind, focusing on women and sex much of the time – which is (unbeknownst to him) always humiliating for whomever he’s talking to.

Once there Borat falls in love with a certain rouge bikini-clad CJ Parker a.k.a. Pamela Anderson, and decides to trek cross-country in the hopes of meeting the lovely actress. Armed with a picture book on “Baywatch” Borat is determined to meet the object of his fantasies… and marry her. It’s hard to say whether she’s in on the joke or not. From her reaction, I’d suspect she isn’t… and if she was, she deserves a bloody Oscar for playing indifferent. When he does meet her, all hell breaks loose.

“There are many job opportunities in the U S and of A. For men, construction worker, taxi driver or accountant. For woman, prostitute.”

Cohen goes through the country generally ripping the shit out of unsuspecting Americans. He usually strikes up what seems to be a genuine rapport with the locals, but they’re usually red-necks, jocks or anti-Semites. Ironically Cohen himself is Jewish and constantly attacks the religion; pushing bogus Kazakh idiosyncrasies / giving undue weight to undiluted bad third-world stereotypes.

This is hilarious, shocking and edgier comedy than you’re likely to see in a long time. Many comedies play it safe in fear of offending, it’s nice to see [literally…] Cohen has the balls [hotel room scene…] not to care. Borat, for example, travels with live chickens in his suitcase; continually annoys, insults and disgusts anyone with whom he comes into contact, and routinely refers to the “town rapist” while his shrew of a wife threatens to kill him if he doesn’t come home. After receiving news of her demise, it’s time for “High Five” and “You wanna have Sexy-Time!!???”

“My wife she is dead… she die in a field… she die from work, an accident, but is not important, I have a new wife.”

The subplot including Pammie is ingenious, which I’m sure her agent didn’t give the go ahead for… Seeing her reaction – I’m pretty sure they didn’t even know about. There is a certain endearment towards Borat, especially during his few quiet moments of introspection. And Cohen is fantastic; you never believe it’s Cohen – all you see is Borat. From introducing his sister Natalya [4th best prostitute in Kazakhstan] to singing his doctored national anthem at a rodeo… It probably shouldn’t – but everything about this movie works.

Longtime Seinfeld and Larry David collaborator Larry Charles (Seinfeld, Dilbert, Curb Your Enthusiasm) really has grappled with, and got the gist of Borat – taking him to a place most would shudder to even think of going. Kudos to Charles and Cohen for rocking the boat, and taking the premise so out of the box – that in realizing it fully, we have created a cult masterpiece of sorts.

“Every Englishman must have a hobby. Some like to collect the stamp, some like to make the jam, but the most fun is to a kill a little animal with a shotgun or rip them up with wild dog.”

A combination of insanity, embarrassment, and car-crash viewing on a cathartic level; it’s crazy stunts and unbelievable assaults; high-minded sarcasm and blistering social commentary gift-wrapped in a low-brow neanderthal package. It flows so seamlessly, you never quite know where the actors end and the ‘real people’ begin. As a small yet succinct part of the Ali G Show Borat was clever respite. As a full-blown cinematic event, it’s probably the funniest thing you’ll watch in a long, long time.

Cohen has stuck to what makes Borat work – inadvertantly poking fun at others’ flaws, in this case American culture; satirizing it whilst taking the mick out of himself… and Kazakhstan. Whereas Ali G In Da House went for a tiresome toilet humour bound script, Borat’s movie is much more authentic as the character sticks to what made it so great in the first place – random encounters with flawed people / groups. This is utter brilliance, bloody intelligent and testament to the genius of Sacha Baron Cohen. Truly redeemed after that smoking pile that was Ali G in Da…

And one thing’s for sure – You’ll never look at conferences the same way again…

A.k.a. “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”

Related Links:

Interview with Borat Sagdiyev

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