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

Monday, December 18, 2006

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

Well, I will definitely say "Borat" is funny. I would even say parts of it are hilarious. I literally laughed out loud probably 7 or 8 times, which is a lot for me. At the same time, the film is also awkward. Painfully awkward. There are moments which made me squish down far deeper into my seat than any horror movie. Kind of like the moment when..........but I don't want to give anything away if you haven't seen it. Shock value counts for a lot with something such as "Borat".

For anyone who may not know the movie is the story of the title character who is sent to the United States by his native country of Kazakhstan in an effort to learn about American culture in an effort to use what he learns to assist his own country. But then his journey turns into..........but I won't give that away, either. Let's just say it makes a sizable statement regarding the current state of the American dream.

Much of the movie could be considered an indictment of the rampant naivete in America. Some of the responses Borat elicits from Americans are downright disturbing. Granted, I don't know how much of this was staged and how much is authentic, but many of the responses of these people seem genuine. I know the infamous frat boys we see in the film are suing, saying they were fed liquor beforehand by the filmmakers, but I have a hard time not thinking what these frat boys say are what they would say even if they weren't featured in a movie.

Also, Borat's road trip goes primarily through the south and so you could also say his indictment is restricted solely to that portion of the United States. However, being from the midwest I can safely say I've seen the same cluelessness and racial prejudice from many citizens in my part of the world. (For instance, and this is a true story, as I walked back to the train after seeing the movie I encountered four young men who were yelling at no one in particular about how much they hated black people - though that wasn't the term they were actually using. I only wished Borat had been with me at that moment.)

As for Sacha Baron Cohen, it's been a long time since I've been so blown away by an actor. He is - if nothing else - utterly committed to the roles he plays. But he is something else. In less than a week I have seen him play two completely different roles and had I not known beforehand that it was Cohen there would have been no way to guess. He inhabits the role. He inhabits it like a funny Daniel Day Lewis.

Is this the funniest movie of all time, as some have claimed? No. Not even close. It's still just the old comedic-sketches-strung-together-by-a-threadbare-plot. But it definitely made me laugh. At times it made even me guffaw. But Cohen? This guy's the real deal.

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