Laugh-Out-Loud Funny, but Not for Everyone
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) is a hilarious, politically incorrect comedy starring Sacha Baron Cohen. It's a faux documentary purportedly made by the fictional Borat Sagdiyev (Baron Cohen), a citizen of an imaginary version of Kazakhstan who travels to the United States and shoots footage of his experiences in what he calls "the U.S. and A." Some sequences are scripted, while others involve Baron Cohen interacting with ordinary folks more or less in the tradition of Candid Camera.
What is most noticeable about Borat is his unabashed male chauvinism and anti-Semitism. He's also homophobic and anti-Gypsy. Furthermore, he's lewd and crude.
To some extent, the movie is social satire. But much of the film's humor derives from mocking people, and at least some of them don't seem to deserve it. Also, it's dubious that everyone who appears on camera was sufficiently informed as to what they were getting into, raising issues of ethics.
A Gut-Busting Comedy With a Top-Notch Screenplay
You might expect Borat to be nothing more than a series of comedy sketches and pranks, but in fact it's carefully structured and was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. The story is that the title character leaves his village in central Asia and comes to the United States to film a documentary. Traveling with Borat is his obese producer, Azamat Bagatov (Ken Davitian). In New York, Borat views Baywatch on TV and becomes obsessed with Pamela Anderson, prompting him to set off on a road trip to California to meet her. Along the way, he has wacky adventures, the zaniest of which is when he and Azamat get into a nude wrestling match.
En route, Borat meets a woman named Luenell (the real-life comedienne plays a fictional version of herself), and this turns out to be fateful. Also, he eventually catches up with Pamela Anderson (playing herself) at an Orange County, California, shopping mall, leading to total debacle.
By the way, when Borat and Azamat communicate in what we are supposed to take to be their native language, Baron Cohen actually speaks Hebrew, while Davitian speaks Armenian. Also in the movie, Baron Cohen sometimes throws in Polish.
Eight Deleted Scenes
The Borat DVD contains eight deleted scenes that run a total of about 24 minutes. The funniest is perhaps "Sexydrownwatch," a spoof of Baywatch, starring Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian and Luenell. Another amusing deleted scene is "Massagings," where Borat gets naked for a massage by a professional masseur. In "Doctor," a veteran general practitioner tries to maintain his detachment as Borat, posing as a patient, talks about STDs and peculiar sexual practices. "More Footages" contains a mix of deleted scenes, but the most entertaining is where Borat leads a prayer for some men wearing Confederate army uniforms as they prepare to reenact a Civil War battle.
P.R. Tour and Music Infomercial
The DVD provides a 16-and-a-half-minute featurette titled "Global Propaganda Tour," which is about the public relations for the movie. This includes footage from the film festivals at Cannes and Toronto, the premieres in Los Angeles, London, Berlin and Sydney, and television footage from Saturday Night Live and Late Night With Conan O'Brien. Perhaps the most amusing segment is on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, where Martha Stewart tries to teach Borat how to make a bed.
The "Musics Infomercial" on the DVD is a humorous one-minute featurette promoting the movie's soundtrack. Songs include "In My Country There Is Problem," "You Be My Wife" and "O Kazakhstan," which begins with the lyrics "Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan, you very nice place." The infomercial claims the soundtrack is available on compact cassette for only 80 million tenge.
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