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“Sacha Baron Cohen, the star and creator of HBO’s wildly popular Da Ali G Show, brings his truly original Kazakh character Borat Sagdiyev to the big screen for the first time. With a camera crew in tow and armed with a jar of gypsy tears “for protection,” Kazakhstan’s fourth most famous celebrity travels to the US and A to make a documentary. As he zigzags across the country, loveable Borat meets real people in real situations – with hilarious consequences – in this “fall-on-your-face, pee-in-your-pants, screaming riot!” (Philadelphia Weekly)”
“Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” is rated R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language.
“Borat” is probably least funny when he’s imitating stunts from Jackass. I didn’t find it particularly funny when he walked into a guy’s shop and started intentionally breaking things. I didn’t find it particularly funny when he and Azamat ran into a conference at a hotel and started wrestling nude on a stage. If the best you can come up with is Jackass style material, you’re really hurting for comedy.
“Borat” also definitely has an agenda they were looking to make fun of racists in the course of the film. It was interesting to see them draw parallels between Borat’s extreme racism against Jews and American racism against Muslims, blacks, etc. However, the movie’s creators definitely zeroed in on targets they could get good material from and then tried to pass it off as typical America. It would be like a documentary crew coming to interview your family then using all the footage from your crazy uncle as an example of what your entire family was like. Clever editing can twist any story around. Take, for example, a family getting upset when Borat invites a prostitute to their house. They throw Borat out, but the editing makes it look like they were offended because the woman was black, not because Borat had insulted everyone there, crapped in a bag, and generally made a nuisance of himself. In another scene where Borat sings at a rodeo, editing makes it look like the crowd is cheering Borat’s comments about killing Iraqis. The creators definitely had an agenda and they edited the footage to give them what they wanted.
That being said, some of the scenes didn’t require any editing to make them more shocking. For example, a rodeo organizer lectures Borat on how to look less Muslim. Some drunken frat boys lament the demise of slavery. (Drunken frat boys should generally be ignored, but you have to wonder how much of the stuff they said was really what they felt.) You get the idea.
As much as I was annoyed by Borat, there were a few scenes I thought were really funny. For example, Borat approaches New Yorkers on the street and introduces himself. The reaction he gets ranges from profanity filled tirades to a terror filled sprint away from him. In another scene Borat buys a bear for protection and terrorizes locals. Then there’s his final meeting with Pamela Anderson. I won’t spoil how that goes, but it’s pretty funny.
In short, if you like “Jackass” or Sacha Baron Cohen’s other work, you’re probably going to enjoy “Borat.” Anybody that doesn’t enjoy racial jokes or potty humor probably better avoid this.
As for the DVD itself, I really have to give credit to the Fox team for clever DVD packaging. It looks like a Kazakh DVD bootleg right down to the disc itself. The bonus features are a little light mainly because there’s no commentary or making-of featurette. You’ll find 8 deleted scenes with more hijinks by Borat. You see him visit a dog pound, visit a supermarket, get a massage, and more. There’s also a “Music Infomercial” parody showing how you can buy Kazakh music featuring Borat. Finally, there’s footage of Borat doing global promotions for the film. You see him with Conan O’Brian, on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Martha Stewart, and more. (Jay Leno looks like me in a China shop with a toddler while Borat is on the show you’re terrified of what they might do next.)