Posted by: ckckred | June 19, 2012

Borat: A Very, Very, Nice Comedy

I review the funniest comedy of this millennium

When Borat came out in 2006, it was a surprise hit.  No one was expecting it to be the funniest and perhaps best comedy to hit the big screen of this decade, but for those who have watched the hilarious Da Ali G Show (which first featured Borat), this was easy to spot.

Just from my opening, you can tell I love Borat.  The full name of the movie is Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, but I’m calling it Borat just to shorten my review.  The title is really, really funny with all the of’s and for’s.  In fact, nearly every part of the movie made me laugh out loud, something which very few films have done.

Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) is a news personality of the country Kazakhstan, which Cohen spoofs as a backwards and undeveloped nation with incredible racial and sexist views (Borat’s town celebrates “the running of the Jew”).  After the film premiered, Kazakhstan immediately placed ads and stated that Cohen’s depiction of Kazakhstan is completely untrue (in a hilarious interview on character in CNN, Cohen stated that these were lies being sent from Uzbekistan).

The government of Kazakhstan decides to send Borat to America to document society there and help better their own country.  Borat brings along his producer Azamat (Ken Vavitian) and travels to New York City, where he encounters average every day Americans who either tell his to mind his own business or run away.

While turning on his television in a hotel room, Borat watches Baywatch and falls in love with Pamela Anderson.  He then decides to go on a cross-country trip across America to California to meet her, and takes his camera and crew with him.  Along the way, Borat keeps interviewing and meeting Americans, be it congressmen to feminists to pastors.

Borat is an incredibly racist, anti-Semmetic, sexist, and vile man in every possible way.  But the movie deals with this in a hilarious fashion.  In one scene, Borat and his producer stay at a Bed and Breakfast run by a nice Jewish couple.  But Borat sees them as demons and in one hilarious scene where he thinks they transformed into bugs, he starts throwing money at them.

Cohen is showing that Borat’s hate doesn’t stem from anywhere.  Cohen is himself Jewish, and in no way, at least in my opinion, is Borat an anti-Semmetic film, racist, or sexist film.  Borat is a socially misguided man who believes in some of the craziest stereotypes.  For example when Borat meets a group of African-American kids, he thinks they must be cool, which as just as stereotypical as his views of the Jews.

But what makes Borat such a brilliant comedy is that it’s a scathing satire.  The film isn’t just making fun of Borat’s ignorant views, but of Americans themselves.  Borat travels across America finding many people similar to himself, be they college kids or rednecks.  And in his journey, he exposes some of the worst of society.  In one scene, some college students tell Borat that America would be much better if there was still slavery and how minorities are taking over the country.  In another, a rodeo crowd erupts with cheers when Borat calls for the death of every single Iraqi.  In the end, Cohen shows that America is not to different from Kazakhstan itself, just bigger with far more village idiots, all of whom are just as ignorant as Borat himself.

Sacha Baron Cohen is fearless in the role as Borat.  Throughout the film he never breaks out of character and constantly makes the audience laugh.  Whether he puts a bear in a ice cream truck or put chickens in his suitcase, Cohen is hysterical in his role.

What’s amazing about the film is that most of it is improv.  There was an overall story laid out, but most of the film was just Cohen on the spot talking to random people.  He did this on Da Ali G Show, where he fooled people into believing that Ali G, Borat, and Bruno were real people.  In Borat, he does the same.  In many parts of the film, I wondered whether if Cohen improved it or had it scripted.

I should also praise director Larry Charles, who also worked on Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Charles makes it feel like a real documentary, and the movie has the same style as This is Spinal Tap.

Borat is, however, not a film for those who are easily offended.  But for those of you who want to see the cleverest satire to hit the big screen since South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, then Borat is your film.  I can easily tell you this is one of my favorite comedies of all time, and certainly one of the funniest.


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