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

Film
PATRIOT ACT Cohen riles up the crowd.
PATRIOT ACT Cohen riles up the crowd.

Time Out says

Dane Cook can milk laughs from thousands of fratty yahoos—but that’s only because the dangerous comedians have gone underground. Not literally, of course, but deep into themselves; Sacha Baron Cohen is the best of these stealth comics (along with Stephen Colbert), turning his remarkably malleable features into the butt of a zillion superior jokes. But unlike, say, Steve Martin’s Wild and Crazy Guy, Cohen’s inept Kazakh correspondent needs more of an introduction to red-state America, simply because these folks are his primary targets. As Borat, he secretly invades their space, exposing them for the provincials they are (i.e., those who actually think foreigners bring their own feces to the dinner table).

Consider it an irony that Rupert Murdoch’s Fox is responsible for selling the year’s most audacious political comedy, an inflammatory satire of yeehaw Bush-era America in all of its resolute backwardness. Borat has the mustachioed Cohen (never sharper) infiltrating God’s country to report back on our ways; the film’s cross-country plot is as simple as it is potent. En route to a hopeful California dalliance with Pam Anderson, he manages to fool his way onto a dopey Missouri morning-news show, sing his national anthem in front of a raging rodeo crowd (“We support your War of Terror!”) and ask a gun-shop owner for the best weapon with which to kill Jews. None of these nonactors are in on the joke; perhaps many audiences won’t be either. Cohen will certainly have the last laugh. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — Joshua Rothkopf

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