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And I mean the actual definition of "literally." I was lucky enough to
catch an advanced screening and I wish I could see it 100 more times.
It's hilarious. It's offensive. It's actually pretty smart as well. Sacha Cohen is so ridiculously consistent and never seems to break character, even when he turns an entire rodeo against him in less than 5 minutes.
I really don't want to speak anymore of the film, because part of the beauty of it is being surprised by what you see on the screen. I only hope they don't edit the hell out of it, because it really was a joy to see as it was.
Sacha Baron Cohen comes to America in the guise of Borat Sagdiyev and
wreaks his own brand of Kazakhi havoc in this very very funny film.
In our age of uber-political correctness, "Borat" comes sweeping through like a brisk and refreshing wind, completely bounding over every cultural taboo we've erected around ourselves. Thus, no one is safe: Borat takes on Jews, blacks, gays, feminists, middle-Americans, religious fanatics, frat boys. The only weapon against the bumbling Borat is a sense of humour, which this movie shows most Americans painfully lack. Indeed, if there is any message to be had from "Borat" (and I'm not sure there is much of one, beyond its fascinating cultural experiments), it's that everyone needs to lighten up and not take themselves so seriously.
The image of Americans projected in this film varies from the heartwarming to the downright frightening. New Yorkers threaten Borat with physical violence when he approaches them on a subway. Feminists walk out on him when they find his views on women too much to tolerate. Folks out in the heartland commiserate with him over his hatred of gays and Jews; a gun shop owner even helps him pick out the best weapon for shooting Jewish people. A sweet Jewish couple give him a place to sleep, and bring him a homey meal (that is, before they turn into invading cockroaches). A group of manic Pentecosts help him find Jesus. An RV full of frat boys make complete asses of themselves by espousing their hopelessly ill-informed views on minorities in our country and the need to revert to slavery. The majority of people treat Borat in the condescending way of those who want to think of themselves as being culturally aware without really knowing anything at all about other cultures. These people become rude the second Borat offends their sense of propriety. On the other hand, the disenfranchised of America greet Borat with open arms, and we see a group of gays and a group of blacks interacting with him as if no cultural boundaries existed at all. The film's sweetest (and most unexpectedly so) moments come from Borat's befriending of a black prostitute.
Of course, this is a carefully crafted work of fiction, and Cohen only lets his audience see what he wants them to see. I would probably react much the same as many of the people in this film if this crazy-looking and sounding man appeared out of nowhere and began to antagonize me. But the movie does make Americans look like a bunch of awfully self-important, uptight stiffs, and I've been to enough places in this country and met enough people to realize that the way events play out in this film (even if they are manipulated or staged) probably come very close to the real thing.
Thank God for movies like "Borat." If nothing else, they remind us that our cultural boundaries only matter as much as we let them, and that all of the fears that govern political correctness are mostly ungrounded. After all, virtually every person in this film was offended at one point or another, and as far as I can tell, all of them lived to tell about it.
Borat proves to be the Python of our generation.
I say this as a die-hard Monty Python fan not because the humour is on the same level or follows the same guidelines (in fact, the common ground is here is that it follows no guidelines) but because both comedy teams mask their sketches in a feature film, passing them off as a story when it becomes glaringly clear that the latter is an elaborate pretext under which to have outrageous, absurdist and side-splittingly fun in a series of genius gags.
Yet for all of Borat's subsequent disorganisation and warped narrative, we are first served a gorgeously condensed introduction to our character in his village in Kazakhstan. This segment was possibly the biggest crowd-pleaser in my theatre and perhaps rightly so, for I would call it the film's goldmine in terms of sheer laugh-out-loud humour. Here we are introduced to Borat's sister ("She is number-four prostitute in whole of Kazakhstan."), whom he kisses on the mouth, his main interests (ping-pong, sunbathing and "watch ladies make toilet") as well as a wide variety of hilarious native Kazakhs. Undoubtedly the success of the introduction stems from a combination of novelty and a culture shock.
Once the sprawling surge of Kazakhstani culture subsides, Borat flies to New York City to make a movie-film about the glorious US and A. The booming Russian ethnic score melts into Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talking' At Me" and the film gets ambitious: it spoofs Jon Voight's incongruous cowboy character walking down Manhattan in Midnight Cowboy (1969). This I found a pleasant surprise, but the referential spoofs end here and the rest is all Sascha Baron Cohen and we couldn't be happier.
The second half of Borat is arguably less compelling. It is hard to tell why, for the humour remains consistently good and there is an almost exponential stupidity with our Borat character as the sets out to go to California to marry Pamela Anderson. I would not go as far as to say the novelty "wears off", but we are a little more settled now and Borat has found his safe footing. Next, however, the film totally floors whatever safeness you may have with one of the most unspeakably graphic hotel room scenes I have ever seen. I won't give anything away, but rest assured that some viewers (*males*) will watch in horrified silence while others will literally cramp up from laughing so violently. I belong more to the latter category.
As Borat travels through America, there is a wealth of juxtapositions to be found when he interacts with the people members of the white house, television broadcasters, etiquette teachers, Christian fundamentalists and Jews all offers layered hilarity and a consistent cloud of laughter kept hovering in the air. Sadly, it was not always directed toward Borat (but most of the time) but toward some truly idiotic hick Americans. When I was informed the film used many candid takes, I can only hope the unreasonably creepy Jesus convention was *not* one of them.
In conclusion, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)" is a towering comedy achievement. It is apparent that Sascha Baron Cohen has done something truly cool here and has created an anti-semitic, misogynist and bigoted character that aptly embodies all racy taboos. As an actor he is unmistakably brave and uninhibited, which makes it easy for the film to lose itself in a tornado of gags, spoofs, bizarre one-liners and graphic jokes. The most fun I've had in a theatre since...forever!!!
9 out of 10
This movie is more deep than it appears to the general crowd expecting
a laugh on a Sunday. Most people will go to watch it as a funny movie,
but it is not a funny movie in that sense. It is a Satire about how
people in many parts of the world still feel about homosexuality,
equality of women, need for a woman's consent to a marriage,
prostitution as a profession, racism, and so on. It also portrays how
even some westerners feel about religion and Jesus. The scene may
seriously bother you if you are too much into Jesus (It is supposed to
bother you, if you really get it).
People who say this movie is disgusting, just do not get it at all! If this is disgusting, then Charles Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" was disgusting, "because it glorified Adolf Hitler, and expressed hatred against the Jews".
If you want to feel sad about how stupid, clumsy and ignorant still many people are in the corners of the world, you should watch this movie to open your eyes. But if you are too classy to understand how people live, think and get used to sufferings in backward countries, you may call it "disgusting".
Watch it with a true open mind.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From all the hype I was expecting an hilarious comedic masterpiece. Turned out to be Latka from Taxi does Jackass. Like all bad "comedy" or satire it drops to the lowest level, i.e crude sexual innuendo, bathroom humor, foul language, cheap laughs at the expense of others. There's some laughs in this, but they are strained and infrequent.This could have been a much better movie, but save for the few humorous moments, it relies on making fools of unsuspecting people for most of its laughs. This is its main flaw, and I found it uncomfortable to watch.Save your money. There's also nothing really original here. This is a DVD movie, and only when there's nothing else to rent....
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before I go on and recommend EVERYONE to see this movie I want to
remind you of one thing. This movie is satire and if you don't
understand that then there's absolutely no point in watching.
Much like Spike Lee's "Bamboozled" it is made very clear that this movie is a satirical piece. Their lampooning, spoofing, however you want to put it there just kidding around take that in account before you go mad because Borat makes jibes at women and Jews.
Cohen has once again had me in tears with laughter as he examines the American way of life. If you haven't seen any of Cohen's TV material then you will definitely be shocked by what you see.
Cohen manages to create genuine laugh out loud moments. Yes they are often at the expense of others but so what?!? No one was harmed during the making of this movie and if they didn't want to be involved they didn't have to sign the release forms. But beyond the laughter Cohen does hit a political nerve whether you like it or not. The footage of a Texan talking about Gays and immigrants is both humorous and extremely alarming. As is the conversation between three frat boys (who clearly have the social intelligence of a two year old combined). It's a stark realisation to see the backwards world we are still living in.
If satire eludes you then this movie isn't for you but if you can sit back, relax and really take in whats going on and have the cop on to realise that Cohen isn't Borat (Cohen comes from a strict Jewish background) then you will be able to take this movie at face value.
Remember ITS SATIRE! Rent it now and just sit back and enjoy the ride!
Many people have practically no idea who Sacha Baren Cohen is, besides
his small role as the gay French Nascar driver in 'Talladega Nights'.
This is because the show he had, Da Ali G Show, was a very unpopular
show. Mainly because it was on HBO and late hours of the night.
Unfortunately, many people never watched the show not because they
didn't like it, but because they didn't know it existed. Da Ali G Show
was an incredibly original variety/reality show featuring Cohen in
three roles including Borat (whom is the main character of the movie).
Cohen, posing as these different characters would interview politicians
and such who were unaware the interview was a joke. The reactions Cohen
would get out of people including one politician telling him to 'go
f*ck himself', were priceless. Going into the one-month early
sneak-preview of 'Borat', I was expecting a funny movie, but was
skeptical on how funny the movie would be. Usually film adaptations of
short five minute skits don't work so well, examples include
'Superstar', 'Night at the Roxbury', 'The Ladies Man' and 'Coneheads'.
All are pretty much loser movies with a few funny scenes but not much
more. However, when the ending credits started to roll and I walked out
of the 'Borat' screening I was sore from laughing so hard. To be
honest, I never laughed so hard during a movie in my entire life.
There is not much I can tell you about this without spoiling it for you. Basically the plot is a Kazakhstan news reporter taking a trip to the United States to win the love of Baywatch's Pamela Andersen, whom he thinks is a virgin. HA! All I will tell you is that Borat travels across the country from New York to L.A. doing such crazy stunts as taking a dump in front of the Trump Towers, publicly masturbating in front of a NYC Victoria's Secret store, singing an Anti-American Kazakhstan National Anthem at a rodeo in Nebraska, buying weapons to protect himself against 'the jews' (whom he believes were responsible for 9/11 Terror attacks) and trying to kiss just about every guy he sees, which brings about homophobia in many of the real people featured in the movie who don't know it's a movie. Some may call 'Borat' the funniest film ever made, and that's not and understatement.'Borat' is without a doubt one of the most original and ingenious comedy in the last three years, and maybe, just maybe, the funniest film ever made. Grade: A- (screened at Harkins Arrowhead 18, Glendale, AZ, 9/04/06)
I, too, caught this early screening in Marina Del Rey. Thought the film was great... the ending could have had more kick to it and been a bit more drawn out, but I was laughing so hard throughout that I barely noticed. Unlike the other comments I read, the nude scenes and the naked wrestling repulsed me. But there were so many other scenes where I felt like I was going to pass out from the pure ridiculousness of it all. Again, Cohen cleverly draws out the ignorance of so many people from the "U.S. and A." and we're left shocked, humbled, more aware, and having stomach pains from the hilarity of how he does it. He again proves what people will do for the camera and how people's true colors shine when they meet someone with more radical beliefs than their own. I left the theater saying "wow wow wee waaaaa"!!!
The laughter is genuine even when I was appalled at what I was laughing at. Is Sacha Baron Cohen a genius of sorts or the biggest smart ass to hit the screens in a long, very long time? He makes John Waters appear like an (old) Disney product. The nastiness works because it is immediately recognizable and his targets live next door if not with me between my four walls. It is a social-horror-documentary. The three guys talking about women between beer and beer was so horribly real that I wanted to leave the theater laughing and screaming at the same time. Borat is not tender about his own background either. He is an equal opportunity offender if I ever saw one. The world is a cesspool and nobody is immune. Even his innocence is corrupt. I've been considering seeing it again, as the whole thing in one single disgusting lump was too much to take but I'm not sure I want to. I'll wait for the DVD where I'll be able to select and discard. My only question is now, what will Sacha Baron Cohen do for an encore.
In terms of pure unadulterated cringe-worthiness, this film just about
outshines them all. It is brilliant, horrific, hilarious, sad,
outrageous, revealing, and incredibly clever. It shows up people's
narrow-mindedness, their racism, their inability to accept or
understand different cultures. It makes me scared for the future of the
world, and delighted that someone actually sees most people for what
they really are - blinkered and uneducated.
Go and rent it, and enjoy. It will make you want to be a better person, make you laugh until you almost cry, and undoubtedly make you hide behind a cushion at times.
Sacha Baron-Cohen is a genius. A definite 10 out of 10.
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