Written by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines
& Peter Baynham & Dan Mazer
Directed by Larry Charles
Running Time: 1:23
for pervasive strong crude and
sexual content including graphic nudity,
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan may go down in history as one of the most groundbreaking comedies of all time.
Sacha Baron Cohen plays Borat Sagdiyev, a reporter from Kazakhstan who travels to the US to make a documentary which will help his home country. While there he discovers the beauty that is Pamela Anderson and decides to travel across the US to California to find her. On his trip he encounters random Americans who do and say the craziest things.
The most amazing thing about Borat is that it completely blurs the line between film and reality. It is virtually impossible to tell during the movie what scenes are 'faked' and what scenes are real. And even when you can sort of see scenes are set-up, how many people are really involved in the joke? Throughout the filming of the movie right up until just a couple of days ago, Baron Cohen refused to do interviews as himself. Every interview would be done in character. That to me is dedication to a character. He's lucky in the fact that not many people in the US knew who he was so he could stay in character. Imagine if a Jim Carrey or Will Ferrell tried that? Everyone would just laugh and say, oh, that's Jim being weird. But no one knew what to make of Baron Cohen, so while people sort of knew they were being put on, at the same time there was a thought that maybe this guy really was insane.
The movie moves along very quickly, clocking in at under 90 minutes, but it never lets up. In each and every scene something totally bizarre and ridiculous happens. Most of the movie I was either saying to myself 'he did NOT just do that!' or crying with laughter. Borat is such a simple guy who has this belief system that never waivers, and he's so nice that unexpecting Americans just go along for the ride. He has a way of subtly allowing people to dig their own graves. All he has to do is start the conversation and people will follow right along. It makes me wonder how many scenes there are where people didn't hang themselves, but there was apparently enough people who did.
There were plenty of moments that were hysterical from a 'Holy Sh*t!' perspective, like when he asked a gun store owner what the best way to kill Jews was, and the owner didn't bat an eye before giving him an answer. Or when he was at a fancy dinner party and needed to go to the bathroom and brought his, umm, stuff, with him back to the table. But hands down, the funniest scene in the film and arguably the funniest scene in a movie in decades, was when he gets into a naked fight with his 'producer' in a hotel room. As a friend of mine said, many movies come up to the line but never cross it. Borat came up to the line and obliterated it. Watching two hairy, ugly (and one fat) men fight is like watching a traffic accident. You want to look away, but you can't. The positions they get themselves into, the soap bubbles flying around, the extra long black line that covers up Borat's genitals... everything worked to perfection. And then they took it up a notch and decided to run naked through a convention. I have no idea how much if any of that was planned ahead of time, but everything looked real to me.
Borat was originally a Baron Cohen character from his hit TV show, Da Ali G Show which was a big hit in the UK but didn't crossover all that well. On the show, Baron Cohen would morph into three different characters, Ali G, Borat and Bruno, and each of them were strange in their own way. Each would interview unsuspecting people and manage to get honest responses to questions no matter how absurd the questions were. But whether it was on the show or in the movie, at no time did Baron Cohen break character. He was completely dedicated to Borat no matter what happened. The rodeo scene I remember reading about when it was filmed mainly because it almost caused a riot. No matter what happened in the movie, Borat remained Borat, and the line between fantasy and reality disappeared completely. I honestly believed the entire movie that everything was real and nothing was staged, except for maybe the Pamela Anderson ending, but then again, how much was really set up ahead of time? In some of these situations it's possible only one person knew what was happening while everyone else was oblivious.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was easily one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. It's one of those films that has to be seen over and over again, if only to see people's reactions. Definitely worth checking out.
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