I guess I am shocked at how divisive this film seems to be--it's apparently another in the camp of "love it" or "hate it." I was familiar with Sasha Baron Cohen and the Borat character from HBO's "Da Ali G Show". While I was amused by this reprehensible, yet surprisingly innocent "Kazahstanian," I was skeptical about a full fledged big screen treatment. Turning a comedy skit into a feature movie is a "iffy" proposition, at best. Take a look at almost every Saturday Night Live adaptation for corroboration. I'd have to say, then, that I was pleasantly surprised--Borat is a winner.
Part scripted, partly hidden camera improv, partly "Jackass" tomfoolery--you're never quite sure what is to be believed in "Borat". Some may feel that this limits the film's effectiveness as commentary, but I feel this enhances it's comedic appeal. For there is such unbridled outrageousness to be had in "Borat," it's hard not to be caught up in the spirit. I probably laughed more consistently within the framework of this spare 83 minute film than I have all year. Some of it is dumb humor, to be sure--some of it was shock value or disbelief.
But a large part of the humor comes from real life. By playing the moronic, offensive imbecile--Cohen, and thus Borat, expose a cavalier prejudice, hypocrisy, and/or intolerance that exists within American culture. Whether it's buying a gun to kill Jews, viewing women as sex objects to be violated, or supporting the genocide of our enemies--Borat always finds willing subjects to engage, people who in one way or another identify with these barbaric ideas.
It's tempting to dismiss Borat as offensive nonsense, I know many have already stated that opinion. It might also be tempting for others to embrace "Borat" as one of the more unapologetic and politically relevant films in quite some time. But I don't think it is attempting anything quite so significant--and that, in truth, may be it's greatest success. It walks the line unlike any other film in recent memory. It has elicited much love from fans and major critics and much hatred from it's detractors. This power to provoke such passion, such debate--be it feelings, emotions, thoughts, ideas--that is the film's crowning achievement. This crazy little film is not only one of the year's funniest films, it has also become one of the year's most talked about. Who can argue with that? KGHarris, 11/06.
on March 6, 2007
Ok, I haven't even played this DVD yet. I saw the film twice in the theaters, and I think enough has been said about it on here...
***May contain spoilers***
But let me say that when I got my Borat DVD in the mail today (how I love Amazon deliveries the day DVDs are available - and with super saver shipping no less) I was a little confused. I opened the package, and found a DVD covered by your usual sleeve promoting its highlights like any other you might buy in the US. Then, I eagerly slipped the plastic-covered DVD out of the sleeve, turned it over to read the back, started reading and wait... what? or rather, CHTO? because the entire DVD cover is in Russian.
Now, I read Russian. And I have purchased pirated DVDs for $2 at Moscow metro stations because that is pretty much what you do when you're in Russia. So the fact that I examined this DVD case for a good 5 minutes, opened it to find what looks like a DVD-R disc with "Borat" labeled in permanent marker and seriously considered the possibility that somehow a pirated DVD had been sent by Amazon... finally, of course, I realized that the whole thing was a joke. Possibly even funnier to me than any single joke in the film. The giveaway was the single slip of paper inside promoting more films you can buy from the US and A that are legal in kazakhstan...
Anyway. Now all I have to do is go to Russia and purchase an ACTUAL pirated version to compare!
The DVD should be purchased for the uncanny packaging alone, but I guess I have ruined the surprise...
The "Borat" party continues on DVD, with cool-stupid menus and lots of howlers in the "Surplus Material" section (that's extra features to most of us). A 20-minute video about the Borat character's U.S. promo tour -- "Global Vistings and Television Shows for Purposes of Propaganda of Documentary" -- takes us to Cannes, with the infamous florescent thong incident that freaked out photo editors worldwide. From the Riviera, it's on to the talk-show circuit with appearances on Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno. Borat to Conan: "Your pubis, is it red? May I harvest it?" On Leno, Borat is ready for love as he mistakes Martha Stewart's bed-making demonstration for an invitation to sex. Stewart plays along, sort of.
There's also a mock late-night TV music ad, with Borat singing to kids about their miseries and then covering "Born to Be Wild" from the stupid van. In the "Censored Footages" section of 8 clips, check out Borat's visit to an incredulous doctor -- "That means you had sex with your sister? ... No high 5" -- and a "Baywatch" spoof, "Sexy Drown Watch," with plenty of flab on display -- and another thong.
It all adds up to a bonus half-hour with Borat, most of it as good as anything in the movie.
on January 19, 2016
Still one of the funniest films you will ever see. An excellent mix of candid camera foolishness and ridiculous caricatures. The story is simple and so stupid it is funny. The reactions "Borat" gets from real people--thug life ghetto guys, everyday people on the streets, stuffy upper middle class people, racist rednecks, and politicians--are hilarious.
There are two chase scenes in this movie worth the price of admission. One has a mentally ill New Yorker deathly afraid of Borat. The other has two naked people running through a hotel with a dildo.
If that sounds like your cup of tea, BUY THIS MOVIE. Borat is one of those movies that will have you laughing even if you've seen it ten times already.
on March 8, 2007
After seeing "Borat," I would have to say that Sacha Baron Cohen is one of the most brilliant and audacious comedians I've ever seen--a four-way cross between Peter Sellers, Andy Kaufman, Johnny Knoxville, and Rabelais. But I also have no desire, at least right now, to ever see this film again. As with some of Richard Pryor's concert films, "Borat" makes us laugh partly in pleasure, partly in shock, and partly in embarrassed recognition of the foibles of humankind, of which the entire audience, of course, are members. But whereas Pryor merely gave his observations of America as he saw it, Baron Cohen travels the U.S. disguised as Borat to record the less-than-enlightened opinions of the various Americans he meets. In the cases of elected officials, fundamentalist ministers and other self-styled official spokesmen for American culture, he hoists them fairly by their own petards (the homophobic rodeo manager is the best case in point). I was less comfortable, however, with his forays on the private citizens who were only trying to be nice to a foreigner, and who would have remained anonymous forever if it weren't for Baron Cohen/Borat. Even Borat's biggest fans have to admit he's an agent provocateur of grotesque proportions. Was it really necessary to regale formal dinner guests in Atlanta with bags of (putatively) his own feces? And while I don't really like being in the position of defending drunken frat boys, those particular drunken frat boys were trying to be kind to Borat, and all non-habitual drunks tend to say and do things in private that would never translate to their behavior when sober and in the outside world. There are parts of "Borat" that I consider as hilarious as anything ever put on film: I never thought anyone would beat Mel Brooks' evisceration of anti-Semitism in the "Springtime for Hitler" sequence of "The Producers," but darned if Baron Cohen doesn't do it with "The Running of the Jew." However, too much of the film in my opinion amounts to sabotage on innocent private citizens. My guess is that I would have made like the one New Yorker Borat approached, and run away from him. Now that I've seen his movie, I'd run twice as fast.
on March 18, 2012
I have heard about Mr. Cohen and his 'special' antics. However, I've never seen his work until I rented this movie last night. What a hoot!! Of course, there's some really course humor, but you have to get past it to see the adroitness displayed. As the movie starts you've got 'over the top' comic background of Kazakhstan, remember this is a comedy looking for laughs. The subtitles are moving fast and furious between the characters. Borat speaks to the audience in English. He speaks Hebrew to his Kazakh producer who answers him in Armenian. In fact, the Kazarkh producer Azamat speaks Armenian throughout the entire film (with Borat answering him in Hebrew). Then you have the visual 'subtitles' rich white folks, ghetto black folks, country folks, CA nerds at Pam's book signing, etc. Mr. Cohen has translated the visual into a form of verbal, hence, the 'House of Babel'.
I know there are already a ton of reviews on this movie, but I just HAD to put my two cents in. I LOVED it. It was one of the most hilarious movies I have ever seen, although I can see some of my friends and family being a bit put off by it.
Basically, Borat is the most ignorant character I have ever seen. Sometimes, I see a movie or a see a character that is just so stupid that it's not even funny. But somehow this works. To give you an comparison, if any of you have seen the movie, "Dumb & Dumber", they were near geniuses compared to Borat. At least they knew that a toilet was where you do your business.
I laughed so hard, so many times, that my abs actually got a bit of a workout. If you have a good sense of humor, and are not offended easily, you will love this movie!
on August 11, 2013
Borat is a mockumentary starring Sacha Baron Cohen. He plays Borat, a Kazakh journalist who travels to America to learn more about the culture and people of the nation. It's hilarious from the start, and a very mature film indeed. There's plenty of swearing, sexual content, graphic nudity, and racism in this film, so don't watch it if you;re easily grossed out or offended. Most of this movie's humor is based on stereotypes today, and they are very funny indeed. It's a great movie to watch if you want some laughs and a good time. Again, do NOT watch this movie if you're very easily offended. Although you may not like all of the racial jokes, it's unfair to mark this as an awful film because of those. Sacha Baron Cohen really is a good actor and comedian, and he's worked very hard and done some very gross things to make this film. For the price, it's a steal, and I recommend this to any mature viewer.
on March 11, 2007
Recommended to those who enjoy irreverent humor, BORAT tells the story of two journalists from the fictionalized nation of Kazakhstan who travel to the US to film a documentary about life in the States. Partially scripted with professional actors and partially filmed guerilla-style with regular people, it stars Sacha Baron Cohen and Ken Davitian.
A buddy film that documents a cross-country odyssey from New York to Los Angeles, the story veers off the road, when Borat finds a photo of "Pah-may-la" Anderson at a yard sale and decides to make the Baywatch star his bride.
Critically acclaimed and wildly popular at the box office, BORAT will nonetheless never be made into a sequel, thanks to the hundreds - if not thousands of lawsuits - it inspired. Still it is definitely worth seeing if not for the humor then for the revealing sociological window it offers into American culture.
Like a fun house mirror that exaggerates anything that stands before it, the Borat character succeeds in provoking and poking fun at both the stereotypically naïve American characters who appear in the film and those who watch and review it.
Whatever the unfortunate personality quirk is, Borat, like a caricature artist, is a genius at uncovering and magnifying it - which is undoubtedly why this is the film that launched a thousand lawsuits. From the misogynistic, anti-Semitic frat boys and the homophobic rodeo director to the perfectly polite Southern socialites who eventually call the police to have Borat removed from their dinner party, no one is safe from ridicule - not even the film's reviewers, many of whom use the occasion to indulge in middle-American bashing.
Before I saw the film I could easily understand why politicians in Kazakhstan would be upset by a movie that misrepresents and makes fun of their nation. But after seeing it, I realize that BORAT plays the same fun house prank on Kazakhstan that it pulls on the US, by provoking this huge Eurasian country to ban the film from ever showing there.
In the spirit of "I had to kill him because he falsely called me a murderer," BORAT inspires America's self-flagellating, intolerance of intolerance and Kazakhstan's ban on the film in protest of being portrayed as a dictatorship where people have few if any natural rights.
One last thought: if I were one of the horrendous frat boys who appeared in this movie, I'd be too busy getting appearance-altering plastic surgery or a personality transplant to bother suing the filmmakers.
-- Regina McMenamin
on June 4, 2009
As they say, there's a sucker born every minute, but taking BORAT into account, multiply that equation by at least ten. Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, playing a reporter from Kazakhstan ostensibly in the States to make a documentary, pulls one sadistic prank after another, from sea to shining sea, on unsuspecting folks who subsequently become his comedic accomplices. The result is funny; hilariously funny; side-splittingly funny.
From BORAT's opening sequence from his (fictitious) village in Kazakhstan, this film serves notice that everyone, regardless of politically correct protection, is fair game. And Cohen also sends the metaphorical shot across the bow that his brand of humor is not for the faint of heart, then promptly backs it up by such ostentatious behavior as bringing his own feces to a formal dinner gathering--to fighting and wrestling with his alleged manager (an obese and very hairy Ken Davitian) along the halls, lobby, and convention room of a packed hotel. . .both men as naked as the day they came into the world. It's outrageous, it's often disgusting, it's raw and shocking--yet it's also hysterical, as Cohen's shocked bystanders swallow it all, hook, line, and sinker.
That's right. From chasing terrified New Yorkers in central Manhattan to wreaking havoc in a Texas antiques store, BORAT captures people in the act of being themselves. Most of the time it's not pretty, but it's darn sure funny, and it's 100 percent revealing. No doubt there's a group of frat youngsters who are still wishing Cohen's camera had never been turned on.
--D. Mikels, Author, The Reckoning