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Borat (2006)
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Review Date: October 30, 2006
Director: Larry Charles
Writer: Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynham, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer
Producers: Jay Roach, Dan Mazer
Actors:
Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat
Pamela Anderson as Pamela
Plot:
Fake Kazakhstani journalist Borat is sent to the United States of America in order to report on some of what makes that country great. Once there though, Borat falls in love with one Pamela Anderson and decides to trek cross-country, with his sidekick producer, in the hopes of meeting the lovely actress, and marrying her. What ensues is a mix of real confrontations with actual Americans and an obvious plotline to join those scenes and turn the TV show sketches into a full-blown movie. Does it work? See below!
Critique:
As seen at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival


An extremely funny yet offensive movie that will likely have certain parties up in arms, including actual Kazakhstanis (who are apparently fighting against the release of the movie), Jewish people, women and pretty much anyone else who’s offended by male nudity, inappropriate sexual insinuations and behavior, and the making fun of other cultures. Personally, I thought much of it was very humorous, including a bunch of laugh-out loud funny scenes, but at the same time, I didn’t think that it worked entirely as a “movie”. For anyone who doesn’t know the background of the lead character in this film, played by actor Sasha Baron Cohen (he’s Jewish in real-life, by the way), he’s an ongoing character on his TV show, along with his more popular alter-persona, Ali G. Part of Borat’s appeal is that he’s so ignorant of American culture, that he can say and do the most outrageous things in front of actual people (who aren’t “in on the joke”) and get away with it because most Americans are polite and try to teach him about his wrongdoings, rather than tell him off for being an asshole, idiot or racist. Well, not everyone, of course…some people do actually get upset and that’s what makes for some of the comedy in this film. The problem with this concept is that it’s very funny as a 5-minute skit on his TV show (or a series of sketches), as it doesn’t expect us to buy into his character throughout a manufactured plotline, but in this film, he’s combining a “fake story” about Borat traveling across America with actual undercover footage of him acting dumb with real people.

The latter stuff is hilarious, as per his show, but then we’re left with Borat and his side-kick “acting” by themselves and that just felt…“off”. I’m not sure if this will bother others, but I simply couldn’t get past it, especially since a few other characters were also “acting”, so it wasn’t fun to sit through those scenes since they kept me wondering about what was real and what wasn’t. For example, at some point, the dumb-dumb duo accidentally stay at a bed & breakfast place with a nice Jewish couple as the home-owners. They act all freaked out in front of the couple (because they’re anti-Semites), but were the Jewish couple in on it? Not sure. They see the camera and everything, don’t they? That sort of stuff took me “out of the movie” every now and again, but like I said before, the obvious “real” footage with regular Americans was so over-the-top, nasty and funny, that I couldn’t help but laugh real hard whenever that stuff came rolling around again. Also, one “acting” scene between the two men was about as funny a thing as I’ve seen on the big screen this year, as they literally got naked and rolled around in bed together, fighting about something or another. Borat’s buddy, who must be over 350 pounds rolls onto Borat’s face, and at some point, we see his balls resting on Cohen’s chin. The audience was in tears throughout this entire sequence and I was right there with them. The problem is that the entire scenario is so fucked up that I would be surprised if it stuck around for the Americanized version of this film.

In the end, I think your enjoyment of this movie will depend on your own tolerance of this sort of stuff, and whether or not you already know and enjoy the character of Borat in the first place. Also, it’s something to watch….on weed!!! As for the anti-Semitic stuff, I’ll be interested to see if the Jewish groups will be “up in arms” about this movie, since some of it is really, really bad – and even though the writer/actor is Jewish himself, that might not make a difference.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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11:43AM on 01/14/2007

Borat - (9/10)

Awesome movie! Non-stop comedy from beginning to end. Very enjoyable.
Awesome movie! Non-stop comedy from beginning to end. Very enjoyable.
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2:14AM on 11/11/2006
I personally loved this film in it's entirety, and didn't expect it to turn out as well as it did, considering that although Ali G Indahouse may have been a decent comedy, the problem was that he was taken out of his element (the improvised reports), and put in a scripted environment. In this film, though, the few scripted moments didn't bother me at all, and I can't wait for the Bruno movie.
I personally loved this film in it's entirety, and didn't expect it to turn out as well as it did, considering that although Ali G Indahouse may have been a decent comedy, the problem was that he was taken out of his element (the improvised reports), and put in a scripted environment. In this film, though, the few scripted moments didn't bother me at all, and I can't wait for the Bruno movie.
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12:54AM on 11/10/2006
This movie is hilarious, but it's far from perfect. The premise of the movie is simple; a journalist from Kazakhstan, that would be Borat, is sent to the U.S. to do a documentary about American culture. The scenes where Borat is "learning" about the U.S., interacting with real life people - who apparently were not in the know that this guy is a fictional character - are hysterical. From Southern "classy" people, feminists, a driving instructor, and more - Sacha Baron Cohen doesn't hold back as
This movie is hilarious, but it's far from perfect. The premise of the movie is simple; a journalist from Kazakhstan, that would be Borat, is sent to the U.S. to do a documentary about American culture. The scenes where Borat is "learning" about the U.S., interacting with real life people - who apparently were not in the know that this guy is a fictional character - are hysterical. From Southern "classy" people, feminists, a driving instructor, and more - Sacha Baron Cohen doesn't hold back as far as the insults, creative ideas, and just over the top situations that he presents to these real life people. These moments alone are worth the price of admission.

Unfortunately, the movie is bogged down by a really dumb plot. Borat treks cross country, on all these "adventures," because he's fallen in love with someone he saw on TV. So he and his obese producer go from New York to California, stopping in major cities to continue their documentary, so he can find his love and marry her. When the movie stops the bits with regular people to focus on this point, it's lame, unfunny, and boring. Not to mention that the plot's conclusion is a far cry from special as well.

There are also several things in the movie I could've done without: for starters - the two guys fighting . . . naked, one of them a rather large man. The scene was not funny but rather gross. Plus it was obviously staged and choreographed as the two gentlemen wound up in rather unique positions. It was meant as crude gag, but I wasn't laughing. Other things that turned me off were the anti-Semitic jokes, and other offensive stabs at particular groups. I'm not Jewish or a feminist for that matter, but it was too obvious that they were searching for a few extra jokes at groups' expense and I just don't find that kind of stuff funny.

The only reason to watch this movie is for the situations Borat goes through for the purpose of the documentary. The extra plot they throw in there and all story elements connected to said plot slow the movie down humor-wise. The ending is nothing to brag about, but it does take away from the fact that Borat is hilarious when dealing with the real people.
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