Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nationof Kazakhstan (2006)

Originally uploaded by baldman76
I was really looking forward to seeing this in the theater when I first saw the previews, as Katie and I were already familiar with the character from Da Ali G Show, which we found hilarious. Alas, we never got around to seeing it. But in the meantime, we heard all sorts of things about the film, most critical raves about how this movie was brilliant, but more than a few that were criticizing the manner in which this comedy was created (ie, false pretense).

Well, having now seen it, I see both sides. I do wonder what events transpired to lead up to the scenes shown in the film. But did I laugh? Oh yes, at times until tears were running from my eyes. But after all was said and done, I wasn’t as impressed with it as I thought I would be. I give Sacha Baron Cohen credit for having the guts to do some of the things he did. Katie wondered aloud how he managed to not get arrested for some of the things he did (the nude wrestling scene, perhaps?). But I found the character funnier on the show in longer scenes in which the humor really built upon the awkwardness of the situation. The movie was certainly awkward, but it was generally shorter clips strung together and I felt the real strength of the Borat facade was tamped down a bit.

And as for making fun of the USA, yeah, he certainly found some real assholes, like the guy that told him (for his own good) to shave his moustache so he didn’t look so much like a Muslim, and of course, the South Carolina guys, who might’ve been drunk but were still acting like total jackasses. But overall, I think I feel the film is a testament to how much crap Americans will put up with and still be polite. Sure, there’s a lot far from perfect in some of what he finds, but there’s a lot of general friendliness there, too. The folks at the Adolf Rose antique store in my own hometown of Vicksburg, MS, were understandably annoyed but nice enough. The driving instructor was always nice no matter what was thrown at him. And the dinner guests in Alabama was nice and patient enough until the situation went far beyond what any reasonable person should be expected to tolerate in their own home.

I had read other critic’s commentary stating this basic idea (that folks were generally pretty dang tolerant) before I watched the movie. And this guy does a good job of expounding on the premise that the America shown in Borat comes out pretty good in the long run. (But for this reviewer’s opinion of the feminists, they might have been rude, but in their defense he was particularly “aggressive” towards them. Telling them a woman’s brain is smaller than a squirrel’s? C’mon- it’s understandable. I did read somewhere that one of those ladies thought it was really funny when she was let in on the ruse.)

So if you’re in the mood to cringe in disbelief, go ahead and see this film. For all of its faults, it is worth a view.

1 comment:

wagsandpurrs said...

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to watch it. I just don't like people being put in this situation.