‘Borat’ Worth Seeing, but No More than Once

February 9, 2007

When you w a t c h comedy, you’re really not expecting much. After all, any fool can make you laugh. How else could Hollywood get away with crappy comedies such as the recent “The Cleaner” (which hasn’t hit theaters here, and let’s hope it doesn’t) or Rob Schneider flicks such as “Animal” and “Hot Chick”? We could also talk about Will Ferrel and his collaborations.

Entertaining? Maybe. Worth a second look? Not likely.Movies like these just need to survive for a couple of weeks at the box office and then, after they’ve made their profit, they’re gone.

Does “Borat” fall within this category? No. Let’s see why.

It’s impossible to talk about “Borat” without explaining a little about Sacha Baron Cohen. The Jewish Englishman and Cambridge graduate is considered a comedic genius in many respects. Those of us who have seen skits from his TV program “Da Ali G Show” know the man has talent. Not only does he have a chameleonic approach to acting (only approach, in my humble opinion), but also his show’s subject matter is controversial and relevant on a social level. He wants to make you think and laugh at the same time. A key ingredient to this is how he invites real-life professionals, social workers and drug experts onto the show, interviews them and asks them what would seem to be ridiculous questions but in fact touch upon issues that merit reflection and thought.

Upon realizing they really don’t have an answer, the guests are ridiculed live onstage, while Cohen brilliantly plays his Ali G part.

In “Borat,” Cohen plays, well, Borat, a Kazakh reporter on a mission: to gather “cultural learnings of America for make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan.” The “guest” in the show this time around is the United States. Explaining more on this point would be either giving away the movie or criticizing the United States, both of which I’m sure you could probably do without. I guess I could tell you that he falls in love with a magazine photo of Pamela Anderson.

This is a movie you should see, at most, once, if only for the renowned naked fight scene – and that’s all I’m going to say about that. There are dull moments that really disconnect you from the experience, and it’s filmed documentary style so it’s got a documentary lag to it. But in the end, it’s worth seeing at the theater or as a rental for the sheer enjoyment of watching people ridicule themselves.

And it’s definitely not your usual slapstick comedy – there’s some substance to it.

 

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