Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Time Out says
Thu Oct 19 2006Sacha Baron Cohen is one of this country’s funniest performers, and the biggest pleasures of ‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’ (to give it its marvellously unwieldy full title) lie in simply watching him goof off, and in watching ‘real’ people’s incredulity as he does so. Borat Sagdiyev, roving reporter from Kazakhstan (here portrayed as a stone-age enclave of impoverished depravity), is let loose on the US on a fact-finding mission that turns into a cross-country stalking exercise after he glimpses a ‘Baywatch’ rerun and falls for Pamela Anderson’s ample charms. En route to California, Borat alarms New Yorkers with a live chicken on the subway, derails a local TV breakfast show and, abetted by his portly producer Azamat (Ken Davitian), engages in a staggeringly public nude wrestling bout that leaves ‘Women in Love’ quailing in the shade.
Plenty to laugh at, then, and hard. But like ‘Ali G Indahouse’, the film struggles to adapt an essentially televisual character to the big screen. Both Ali and Borat are terrifically conceived provocateurs capable of coaxing all sorts of damning concessions from the unwitting, but they’re pretty thin as characters in their own right. The potential for satire, meanwhile, is blunted by the narrative demands of a feature, which muddy the boundaries between candid-camera revelations and scripted crassness. For every genuine shocker – a rodeo crowd cheering Borat’s exhortation that ‘George Bush drink the blood of every man, woman and child in Iraq’ – there are several fish-in-a-barrel moments of feminist-baiting, poo jokes and queasily tongue-in-cheek anti-Semitism. Still, you can’t help but relish the chutzpah of such spectacular obscenities as the ‘running of the Jew’, a Pamplona-style carnival in Borat’s village that can only be descibed as jaw-dropping.
Author: Ben Walters
Cast and crew
Sacha Baron Cohen, Kevin Davitian
James Thomas, Peter Teschner, Craig Alpert
Anthony Hardwick, Luke Geissbuhler
Jay Roach, Sacha Baron Cohen
Dan Mazer, Anthony Hines, Sacha Baron Cohen