Borat – Capsule Movie Review

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Even after tons of great press and top-notch reviews, I was hesitant to see Borat (or as it’s officially called, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan). Reviews universally praise how funny Borat is, and how star and co-writer Sacha Baron Cohen is a comic genius. However, no one tries to hide the fact that this movie pokes fun at American society in a way that is beyond politically-incorrect. Though I’d never seen Da Ali G Show (the television show where the character of Borat originated), I’d heard about the central premise: Borat, as a journalist from Kazakhstan, speaks to ordinary Americans in an earnest, yet incredibly inappropriate and increasingly offensive way. Often they follow Borat’s lead and actually hang themselves on their own shocking viewpoints. In one surprisingly frank scene, when Borat tells a rodeo organizer that they execute homosexuals in Kazakhstan, the man tells him that they’re trying to get that legalized in the US as well. Taken out of context (and maybe even in context), the things that Borat says and does are totally offensive. I was worried that the movie was going to be all about the awkwardness of people confronted by someone as outrageous as Borat. (“Look, he’s running naked through the lobby, how are the uptight Americans going to react?”) Amazingly, it wasn’t just about the humiliation of ignorant people; nor was it just about shock value. Combined with the fish-out-of-water likability of Borat’s character (think Balki from Perfect Strangers times 100), the outrageousness was hilarious (he doesn’t just run naked through the lobby; it goes waaay beyond that!) I’m not a huge fan of juvenile humour (I hate seeing someone get a soccer ball in the crotch), but somehow this movie manages to be both broad and sophisticated at the same time. Including politicians, urban city folk, the gay community, southern genteel folk, NRA types, frat boys, Pentecostal Christians, even Pamela Anderson, this movie has something offensive for everyone. All I know is that I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to take offense. (4 out of 5)

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