ALL about… ‘Borat’

Aman Ali

Offending America in the spirit of humor

Credit: Steve Schirra

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Starring Sacha Baron Cohen, Pamela Anderson, Ken Davitian

Directed by Larry Charles

Distributed by 20th Century Fox

Rated R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic nudity and content

Stater rating (out of five): ****½

Sometimes it takes a foreigner to remind us how stupid Americans can be.

British comic Sacha Baron Cohen takes his smash hit persona, Borat Sagdiyev, to the big screen this week in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

Cohen’s shock-factor improv makes the movie hands-down the best comedy to hit theaters this year. In a civil society watered down by hyper-political correctness, Cohen’s guerrilla comedy leaves its audiences bruised from laughing.

Borat is an adaptation of one of the many sketch characters Cohen plays on his hit HBO show “Da Ali G Show.”

In the movie, Borat, who describes himself as the “child of Asimbala Sagdiyev and Boltok the rapist,” is sent by his homeland to film a documentary about the United States and share his findings with the Kazakhstani government.

His plans shift gears, however, after Borat watches an episode of Baywatch and falls in love with Pamela Anderson. As he travels across the country, he runs into the bigotted, uptight and just plain stupid people that make up the social fabric of this country … all on a mission to meet Pamela Anderson and “gain entry into her vagin.”

Borat’s character is brash and often times racist and perverted, but what makes him lovable is the fact that the people he runs into don’t realize the character is fictitious.

In the beginning of the movie, Borat asks a car salesman if the dealership had any vehicles strong enough to run over gypsies. The salesman directs Borat to a Hummer SUV that he’s confident could suffice Borat’s needs.

Even worse, when Borat asks a gun dealer which weapon would be best for killing Jews, the man behind the gun counter says “a 9 mm or a .45” without even raising an eyebrow at the absurd question.

Cohen makes sure he’s an equal opportunity offender in the movie, even greeting a white guy with “What’s up vanilla face?” after Borat finished hanging out with a crowd of black guys in Georgia.

The movie doesn’t miss a single beat when it comes to laughs. Even a downright disgusting part of the film, a 5 to 10 minute nude wrestling scene between Borat and his excessively hairy and fat friend, garners laughs.

A film of this caliber would not be complete without the controversy that accompanies it. For over a year, the Kazakhstani government has blasted Cohen for his portrayal of Borat and have kicked their animosity toward Borat into overdrive now with the movie’s impending release. Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, a liberal-leaning leader in Kazakhstan, said there is massive public outcry in the country Borat claims to represent.

“If it happened in a country where rules are more strict than ours, there would have been a government decree to destroy Borat,” Tuyakbai told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Hoping to counter the stereotypes Borat makes in the film, the Kazakhstan government has even gone to the extent of running ads in publications like The New York Times, The Washington Post and Foreign Affairs in response.

Cohen, in full Borat character made headlines himself in September for heading down to the White House to personally invite George W. Bush, whom he called “Mighty Warlord Premier Bush,” and “other top American top dignitaries like O.J. Simpson and Mel Gibson” to see his movie.

What makes this movie fascinating is Cohen’s commitment to the Borat character both on screen and off the screen. Cohen has rarely been seen in public out of character to promote this movie. His commitment to the role outshines the likes of Stephen Colbert and could perhaps put him on par with legends like Andy Kauffman and Benny Hill.

Until then, die-hard fans of “Da Ali G Show” will not be disappointed with Cohen’s current project, and those who have never been blessed with watching Borat’s shenanigans won’t be either.

Contact city editor Aman Ali at [email protected].