Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan ***1/2
Oh, Borat. There really isn't anything bad to say about this. In fact, looking back, my "Borat" experience was quite perfect. I saw it in the way that it demands to be seen-with a large, crowded, group of people. That is important. Films like "Borat," and "Jackass Number Two" demand to be seen with a group. There is something about the theatre that would make these two comedies seem like trash on a small screen in a living room with two of three people. "Borat" is offensive, crude, crass, disturbing, rude and crude, but always hilarious. It was even surprisingly sweet, especially in the third half. And I used to think that it would be impossible to go from two men wrestling naked with one another, to a tear jerking speech from the title character. Talk about an odd flow.
There isn't really much of a plot, but I'll do my best to explain anyway. Borat Sagdiyev is the sixth highest watched news reporter in all of Kazakhstan. From everyday news about the country to being the prime reporter during The Running of the Jew, Borat delivers the news in a way that people want to see. That is why he is assigned to go to America and learn about the American culture. It could even benefit Kazakhstan, as Borat's living conditions are anything but prime. Borat, along with his rotund producer Azamat, head to New York City to capture the culture there. Before he leaves, his wife reminds him "Do not sleep with any other woman while you are away, or I will cut off your c---." Yikes. Borat does not get along with everyone, especially since nobody is used to his odd way of being. Nobody in Times Square wants to be kissed by Borat on the cheek before he interviews them. Borat isn't happy with the results thus far, but when he discovers the television remote he also discovers Baywatch, which is when he falls in love. He seems C.J. on the screen-or Pamela Anderson is real life-and spends the entire night watching the show. He falls in love, and wants to find Pamela, but is scared of what his wife said to him. And then he gets the magic telegram-his wife was killed by a bear back in Kazakhstan-what a perfect opportunity to look for Pamela, and marry her. When he learns that Pamela is in California, he enlists Azamat to switch gears and study culture all over America, all on a quest to find Pamela-an agenda that he keeps secret from his producer.
That is the overall plot, but it isn't the plot that'll keep you interested. In fact, the plot doesn't really have anything to do with anything, aside from the third act. Throughout the film, Borat involves himself with various groups all over America, and interviews them, more or less. And the best part is that he is always meshing up our culture with his own, and we can tell that he lives in a very different world. And the beauty of the interviews is that they were all improv. Sacha Baron Cohen literally walked up to people and asked them questions, not knowing what their response would be at all. Cohen seems to be a master of comedy, and he is always staying in character. There is never a moment where he "winks" at the camera, reminding us that it is him under there. He is Borat, and he is always Borat. He also creates likability in the Borat character. By the end you really do grow to love Borat, and you want his misadventures to continue.
There are so many little gags and slight jokes. There are even more of those than the outlandish crude comedy scenes. Pay careful attention, because I think there are things I even missed. Of course this is offensive, and the best part is that it doesn't spare anyone. The blacks get hit, the Jews, the gays, the rich, the south. . . the list just goes on. But in the end it is just a movie, and its just fun. This is the prime target for a lawsuit, because once again people can't understand the fun of a comedy and they have to make a big deal out of everything. This isn't the type of movie for everyone. Even I had to cringe a few times at what goes on here, but it is so hilarious that you'll laugh anyway. Hard. It is impossible not to find parts of "Borat" funny, because it is so true. And it's actually stunning to see the kinds of people in the world. One guy from the South still has me mad, with his rantings about how the gays should all hanged and killed. And yet, while hearing this, Cohen never breaks character. He is Borat through thick and thin, for better or worse. Sadly, "Borat" lags a little bit during the last ten minutes, and even though it is an eighty five minute movie, it felt a little longer. It delves into some dramatic territory for a little too long, and the improv-on the spot technique was halted for the story to come to a conclusion. Pity, even though this is a comedic masterpiece anymore. "Borat" is spot on offensive comedy, and nearly perfect. This is the most fun I've had in a long while.