But that's a tale for another time... today, we'll talk all about Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)! Yes, Yes, Yes... Sacha Baron Cohen's second tier Kazakh attraction from Da Ali G Show has become an absolute Cultural Phenomenon in the USA. And I can't get arrested. I tried. I mooned a Cop! You'd think that'd do it, but no! She put a buck in my waist band.
Damn you Physical Fitness... you're a double edged sword!
The history of Borat begins with Ali G. Like the clueless pseudo-ghetto English kid, Borat is a character created and performed by Baron Cohen to interact in his own ridiculous way with the real world, interviewing and relentlessly ridiculing the unsuspecting public he interviews. As Kazakhstan's greatest journalist, Borat Sagdiyev brings a sexist, racist, homophobic ignorance to his exploits that fall somewhere between The Simple Life and The Tom Green Show.
Borat's film debut, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is essentially more of the same, with enough hilarious book-ending scripted comedy to keep the whole thing hilarious and... often disgusting. At times you'll wonder how this largely unscripted (though at times, obviously staged) mockumentary is credited to no less than Five Writers (Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, Dan Mazer and Todd Phillips), but at times you'll simply sit back and enjoy the improv skills of Baron Cohen, no matter what he's saying, especially as his "Victims" never seem to realize they've been had.
After a scratched and grainy introduction, in which Smiling Borat introduces us to his peaceful little village (really Glod, Dâmbovi?a County, Romania, the citizens of which have since taken legal action against the film's producers), his sister, the fourth place award winning best prostitute in Kazakhstan, his planetoid of a wife and a citizenry that redefines quirky, Borat, his apparently omnipotent camera-crew and his rotund executive producer Azamat Bagatov (Ken Davitian) make their wicked way to the United States, funded by the Kazakh Ministry of Information.
It all goes swimmingly horribly from the point that Borat believes that his hotel's elevator is actually his room to the point at which he chases a New Yorker down the street to administer unto him the greeting kissy he so richly deserves. But everything changes for Borat when a marathon television binge in his (real) hotel room introduces him to Baywatch and through that bouncing and throbbing media, the unparalleled and shapely form of one Pamela Anderson! Naturally, Borat leads the crew, including Azamat on a quest (in an Ice Cream Van) to Sunny Californy, so that he can make Pammy-Baby his golden bride. Hey, that's what brought ME out here. OUCH! My wife just punched me in the cheek bone. Fargh. Hurts.
Along the way, Borat's "Cultural Learnings" lead him to and through the good graces and into the very depths of disgust of such notables as sexist frat boys, southern dinner-partiers, speakers-in-tongues, etiquette coaches, Jewish Bed and Breakfast owners, midnight basketballers and more appalled hotel clerks than you can shake a fat man's wiener at.
While Borat (and the people behind Borat) seem to make a project out of being offensive (or, at least, controversial), there's no denying that the film itself is great fun, and well worth a laughing look. Between the uncomfortable laughter that surrounds a naked wrestling match (and multi-room and floor chase) between two hairy men (one of whom weighs in at... well, a lot) and the nervous, uncomfortable laugher as Baron Cohen's alter ego (well, one of 'em) makes scatological jokes at a formal din-din, it's a laugh, whether you want it to be or not.
My, My, My.
Anyway, Borat leaves a trail of embarrassed real people (all of whom signed a release before they knew they were being served) on his way to the golden globes... of Pamela. Does he find them (I mean, HER)? Weeeeeeeeeeell, you'll just have to watch the film to find out... but if you do... look for the part that actually shows one of the recent locations of the REAL Adventures of Michelle and J.C.
What am I saying... you won't know where to look. It's not like we're in the damned thing.
As a Mockumentary, Borat is pretty good... well, very good if you consider the fact that half the players didn't realize that they were in a Mockumentary at all. Special credit should go to director Larry Charles for meshing the fantasy and reality so well, and especially to Baron Cohen for convincing the unsuspecting players that all this was real. Outlandish, but real. But then, with credits like Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Tick under his belt, Charles should know documentary style and oblivious deadpan comedy like a master. However, some scenes in Borat are simply so outlandish that there's... there's about a snowman's turd in hell's chance that they're at all real. Of course, the melding of the unsuspecting reality and the incredible comedy is much of what makes this flick the groovy gravy that it is. On the other hand, some viewers... well, tight-asses... might feel a hell of a lot of sympathy for those unsuspecting souls who found themselves preyed upon by Baron Cohen's psycho-gonzo mock-journalism. Others who are turned off by scatological humor, shock value and anything-but-flattering nudity (yes, there are men with the exact same body type as Peter Griffin) should maybe rent The Land Before Time part MCMMXLIV instead. Still, even for me, and I did enjoy this film, there did appear to be more than a lot of Easy, LCD comedy to match the underlying intelligence, cent for cent.
But Borat is a fuckload of funny, whether you like it or not. As a scathing nudge at middle America, a satire of the red (and blue, damn it) states, or just as a screwball comedy, you might not want to laugh, but it will be pretty difficult not to, even when you're wondering how far this clown can go. And, hey, it's become a complete success, earning a Trump-load of bucks and awards. Borat might not have won Pamela Anderson's Golden Globes, but Sacha Baron Cohen won one of his own for playing him. The film was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar too. Take THAT Ali G! Three and One Half Stars out of Five for Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. May it make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kneumsi one day. Yes, Yes... and we'll find out what the future holds for those crazy Adventures of Luenell and Borat. Oh my, oh my, oh my. Seeing you in the next reelings. NOT! Is Niiiiiiiice!
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