THE STORY: Jagshemash! Sacha Baron Cohen, the star and creator of HBO’s “Da Ali G Show,” brings his Kazakh journalist character Borat Sagdiyev to the big screen for the first time. Leaving his native Kazakhstan, Borat travels to America to make a documentary. As he zigzags across the nation, Borat meets real people in real situations with hysterical consequences. His backwards behavior generates strong reactions around him, exposing prejudices and hypocrisies in American culture. In some cases, Borat’s interview subjects embrace his outrageous views on race and sex by agreeing with him, while others attempt to offer a patriotic lesson in Western values. Wa-wa-wee-wa!
Hilarious. Jaw-dropping. Inflammatory. Dangerous. Subversive. Borat, a satirical Kazakh journalist caricature invented and portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen, has been called all this – and more. Borat became a phenomenon in the U.K. with the comedy series “Da Ali G Show,” in which Baron Cohen’s outlandish humor and razor-sharp satire on anti-Semitism, misogyny and racism, came to life through his creation’s bizarre behavior and interviews.
Baron Cohen’s innovative and unique work has brought him two BAFTA awards. “Da Ali G Show” was a worldwide phenomenon, and Baron Cohen is the only person to twice host the European MTV Awards. Dictionaries added two words based on his characters’ “inventive” use of the English language, and even the Queen Mother was a fan.
In addition, Baron Cohen received critical plaudits for his role opposite Will Ferrell in this summer’s blockbuster comedy “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” Also, Baron Cohen was the voice of the King of the Lemurs in “Madagascar.”
Even before its release, critics heralded BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN as one of the funniest pictures of all time, and it became the highest-rated comedy on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com). The film’s humor and acclaim stem from its comedy “dream team”: Sacha Baron Cohen, Larry Charles from “Seinfeld” and Jay Roach, director of the “Austin Powers” films. Baron Cohen and Roach are the film’s producers, with Charles serving as director.
The production of BORAT – as one might expect about a project centered on the character – was unlike any other. Baron Cohen, whose commitment to the role is unwaveringly intense, stayed in character through the shooting, and elected to conduct publicity and interviews promoting the picture, as Borat.
THE REVIEW: If you’ve seen Borat make a mockery of racism, stupidity, bigotry, and all sorts of other American traits on Da Ali G Show then you’ve got a good idea of what you’re in for with the movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
I’m going to try and not slobber all over the movie, but its going to be hard to resist. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is not only the longest name of a movie ever—it’s also one of the funniest movies ever. Period. End of story. Borat slices and dices through America exposing the same things he did on the HBO show.
The best aspect is always that people think it’s a true documentary for Kazakh TV. Instead its the insanely brilliant Sacha Baron Cohen busting chops. Part of the story involves Borat trying to find the girl he loves, Pamela Anderson, while treating other women less then animals, constantly skewing Jews, homosexuals, racism (“chocolate faces”) and ignorance. Cohen is brilliant at exposing those who hide their bigotry from every day life but are ready to unleash it once someone feels the same way. Borat is better than any prime time news show or newspaper or any expose that tries to expose bigotry and racism in America.
FRANKLY: The only bad thing about Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is that it only lasts 89 minutes. I would have loved another hour of Borat tramping across the country. But the 89 minutes we are given it’s a great treat. This is the funniest movie since; well it’s not easy to think back that far. It’s hard to think of a time when there has been a movie that made me tear up from laughing so hard. It’s relentless, nonstop laughs. I’ll have to see Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan a few more times—for research of course.
+ Charlie Craine