Saturday, November 04, 2006

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

U.S. Release Date: 11/3/06
Running Time: 1:24
Rated: R (pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language.)
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian, Luenell, Pamela Anderson

Director: Larry Charles
Producer: Monica Levinson, Dan Mazer
Screenplay: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, Dan Mazer
Music: Erran Baron Cohen
Studio: 20th Century Fox

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Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is quite possibly one of the most outrageously offensive and consistently hilarious films in recent years. In the spirit of a Christopher Guest “mockumentary,” Borat agitates, shocks, and places your funny bone in the palm of its hand. It is crude to the hilt, quick to the edge, and filled to the brim with humor. As long as you can stomach gratuitous male nudity, Borat is a highly recommended cinematic comedy.

British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen plays the part of Borat Sagdiyev, a Kazakhstani TV journalist. Set to explore the United States of America, Borat leaves his wife, neighbor, and village behind him to film a documentary about his American experience. With his director and sidekick, Azamat Bagatov (Ken Davitian), in toe, Borat ventures to New York City—only to catch an episode of “Baywatch” and fall in love with Pamela Anderson. From then on, Borat’s documentary for his fellow Kazaks is more of a quest for the big-breasted blonde than anything else.

Unlike Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is deserving of the long explanative title and funnier because of it. Surprisingly, Borat is packed with sophisticated humor and immensely immature pranks simultaneously. The film is anything but political correct; additionally, it is everything that shares a synonym with unique.

Borat’s most praiseworthy facet is the fact that it places every American stereotype on display and proves that somewhere, in some shape or form, there is a closet bigot in every America citizen. From a rodeo cowboy who comments on hanging homosexuals, to an anti-Semite who refuses to take food from Jews, Borat showcases the “cultural learnings” and the cultural fears of America. Virtually every American persona – including a frat boy, a prostitute, a feminist and an evangelist – comes in contact with Borat and expounds on his/her viewpoint.

The rationale behind Borat’s sense of humor is simply cultural ignorance. As a foreigner to the States, the Kazakhstani journalist is completely out of his element. Thereby, his misunderstandings, cultural clashes, and pure unawareness results in knee-slapping humor and shockingly hilarious absurdity.

The best way to describe Borat is like a crud-covered charm. On the outside, the film is dirty and in need of washing, but under the filth, there is something more: an objective, a message, and a memorable character with a great big misguided heart. Borat is one of the most ribbing and riotous films ever to appear on the silver screen. (***1/2 out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2006