BluRay/DVD Reviews

BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN

By • Mar 6th, 2007 •

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Released by: Twentieth Century Fox
Running time: 86 minutes / Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

When I was in college, back in the early 90’s, my roommate and I were assigned the abdicable task of showing a soon-to-be freshman around campus. He was a foreigner (from a country which shall remain nameless) and I was amazed at his misconceptions of what America was all about. For example, his idea of our Independence Day was a free day to do absolutely any disgusting or heinous act imaginable without suffering any of the consequences. To him, it was a twenty-four hour risk-free celebration of anarchy and debauchery, if you will. Needless to say, I knew I had to keep this guy close to me when he began his academics. At the very least, I saw a way to cure my constant boredom, but I truly felt that I needed to keep an eye on my friend to keep him out of his inevitable one-way-ticket introduction to the American prison system. Sadly, I haven’t thought of my foreign friend in over ten years (although I know he went on to Graduate School for a PhD in New England and returned to his homeland an academic hero), but I was immediately reminded of him when I put BORAT into my DVD player.

Sacha Baron Cohen has created a character, with his portrayal of Borat Sagdiyev, which has endless possibilities. While the film does have a storyline to follow, the majority of the movie relies on Cohen’s quick wit, allowing him to ad-lib against unsuspecting Americans who have no idea that the Borat character is just that… a character. Borat is a naive reporter from the country of Kazakhstan. That description alone has potential for comedy, but Cohen gives Borat undesirable personality traits, such as making him homophobic, misogynistic and a gigantic anti-Semite. He’s also horny way beyond medical textbook proportions. Thus, in my opinion, making him even funnier, and quite complex as a leading character.

BORAT is part road trip comedy and part fake documentary. It also uses hidden camera and inside joke pranks as elements. The closest films I could compare it to are SPINAL TAP and the two JACKASS films, but that still isn’t exactly accurate. I have to admit that I avoided the television show that Cohen developed the Borat character on, DA ALI G SHOW. I love British comedy. My two favorites Brit comics are Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson of THE YOUNG ONES and BOTTOM fame. They mix bloody violence and lowbrow comedy in ways that no American comic has ever touched upon. I just never had the time to catch Cohen’s television show on HBO. I still kept up with popular culture enough to know who played Borat and what the character was all about. I wondered if Cohen showed up somewhere while filming and was “called-out” on his false reporter character. The DVD has no commentary to let us in on that constituent.

I also realized that Borat could have easily been one of the endless rubes I’m forced to live my life with here in Marion County, Tennessee. In the film Borat receives toilet etiquette from people located in the state of Alabama for god’s sake… ALABAMA people! If you are not familiar with the dim-witted character of Borat, perhaps that gives you an idea.

BORAT’s plot is simple. Foreign reporter comes to America to do interviews for his local television show back in Kazakhstan. While visiting, he discovers Pamela Anderson on the television show Baywatch. He is convinced he must travel from New York to California, find her, marry her and bring her back to Kazakhstan. He purchases an ice cream truck for the epic trek across America and stops throughout to do interviews with people across this great country.

The pure genius of the movie is the never-ending people who don’t realize that the Borat character is fictional; much less that they are in a movie. Highlights include: a chicken escaping from Borat’s suitcase on a New York subway, Borat taking on three stuck-up feminists, our champion experiencing a driver’s education class, Borat mistaking a woman’s simple yard sale for a gypsy outpost, our hero making a total mockery of a local newscast in Jackson, Mississippi, and Borat, inadvertently, staying at a bed and breakfast run by Jews.

The Kazakh Government, for being a concoction of unfit repute and horrifying manners, endlessly picked this film apart. The opinion was retracted and the Kazakh Government eventually played it off like they were in on the joke and invited Cohen to visit their country. It just proves my point that people are way too uptight about FICTIONAL characters. Borat had to be from somewhere and besides, am I supposed to believe that Kazakhstan doesn’t contain one single idiot? This film was nominated for best original screenplay by the Academy, which was quite odd, seeing as how more than fifty per cent of the film was improvisational. Yet, I still pulled for it to win. Watching the film, I couldn’t help but wonder why Cohen wasn’t arrested or physically assaulted. The deleted scenes answered half of my questions on this respect.

I would love to see a sequel with the likeably naive character of Borat, but with all the remarkable publicity this film received and the magazine covers he’s appeared on, I don’t see how Cohen could appear in another film unrecognized. Maybe he could do a fake documentary strictly in his home country of Kazakhstan. He is, after all, the biggest thing to happen to that country since dysentery. Better yet, perhaps he could show up to my unfortunate hometown of Marion County, Tennessee and create the rest of a trilogy. God knows the locals could relate to the chicken in the suitcase and the cow in his living room. BORAT is highly recommended to absolutely ANY comedy fan.

The extras on the DVD are excellent and include deleted scenes that feature physical therapy by an unsuspecting male masseuse and Borat’s journey to a dog pound where he rudely asks the attendant what temperature the puppy must be cooked at for it to be safe for consumption. It also features a Baywatch spoof that has to be seen because it is not for literate descriptions.


Special Features:
Kazakhstan BAY WATCH spoof
5 Deleted scenes
The Best Of other deleted scenes compilation
Rodeo News Report
World Promotions Tour Featurette

Directed by: Larry Charles
Produced by: Sacha Baron Cohen and Jay Roach
Co-Produced by: Peter Baynham
Executive Produced by: Monica Levinson and Dan Mazer
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian and Pamela Anderson
Screenplay by: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, PeterBaynham and Dan Mazer
Story by: Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynham, Anthony Hines and Todd Phillips
Music by: Erran Baron Cohen

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