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Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Please, you come and see the show. It is nice!
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Sacha Baron Cohen Stars in the Comedy "Borat".
OPENING WEEKEND: $14,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $50,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

July 24th, 2006: The country of Kazakhstan is in a state of poverty and the government needs to rework the system in order to improve conditions for its people. The leaders decide it may be best to learn from the world’s number one superpower, The United States of America. Kazakhstan’s sixth most famous man and one of the nation’s leading television journalists, Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen), is given the mission of a lifetime when the Kazakhstan Ministry of Information chooses him as their official representative. With a small documentary crew to his disposal, Borat’s assignment is to go to America and gather as much pertinent information as possible in order to return and give a full report. Upon his arrival to the United States, however, the sex-starved Borat quickly becomes distracted by famous actress Pamela Anderson. He convinces his crew to follow along with him as he treks cross-country to try and meet up with the blonde beauty. Along the way, he stops to chat with regular American citizens and records the outrageous results. Borat’s lack of familiarity with Western customs and culture and his ignorant and racist outlook immediately clashes with several individuals, but some attempt to educate the Kazakhstani host, hoping to teach him some restraint and good old fashioned manners.

What to Expect: For anyone that may not be in on the joke, Borat is the alter ego of 34-year old comedian, Sacha Baron Cohen. On his television program, “Da Ali G. Show,” Cohen has created three distinct and highly innovative characters. The singular purpose of the show is to introduce each outrageous figure into a real-life situation and document the ensuing pandemonium for the audience’s amusement. Cohen’s absolutely stone-faced delivery ensures that each character is taken quite seriously by the individuals he runs into. Whether he is being contemptuously offensive or just plain ignorant, Cohen never lets up and simply observes how his victims chose to react. Borat happens to be the host of a Kazakhstani television program called “Borat’s Guide to America.” With his barely intelligible English and frequently inappropriate and even racist perspective, Borat isn’t shy to make a totally rude remark or to ask the most confounding question. Because Cohen is so deadpan, Borat is treated as an eccentric and shrugged-off as a culturally uneducated individual. Rather than respond harshly, many people take a very tolerant approach. Of course, there are some that will not stand for any shenanigans and are quick to challenge him. Imagine Roberto Benigni if the nonsense he spoke was primarily sexual or offensive in nature and you have Borat.

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The film will not stray much from this basic pattern. Much like “Da Ali G. Show,” Borat will feature the main character’s several real-life encounters with actual people on America’s streets, but the sketches will be stringed together with a fictionalized plot. I suppose the movie falls under the rare “mockumentary” category.

The production has been kept fairly quiet in order to catch unsuspecting victims by surprise, but that has resulted in some mishaps as well. When Borat mangled a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and made inciting remarks about the war in Iraq at a Virginia rodeo, the crowds nearly erupted in a riot. Following the incident, the film’s first director, Todd Phillips (Old School, Road Trip), left in the middle of the production. Although he and Cohen had arguments about the material throughout the shoot, it must have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Larry Charles, a writer on “Seinfeld” and director on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” stepped in to take over and has successfully completed the film without any casualties. I imagine he has a much more appropriately tuned sense of humor to Borat’s antics than Todd Phillips, given both directors’ resumes.

I feel inclined to mention the outrageous teaser for Borat, which is easily one of the funniest laugh-out-loud trailers I have ever seen. If for some reason you have not watched it yet, make sure you check it out for an insane preview of what the movie will have to offer. It’s the type of material that can bring tears to my eyes.

The comedy premiered very recently at the Cannes Film Festival and received very positive reviews, for the most part. It is, at various times, extremely funny, offensive, controversial, and in poor taste. However, the movie is aimed at the demographic that enjoys Jackass, so I’m sure there isn’t anything there that fans couldn’t handle.

For those wondering where the controversy comes from, Borat’s pervasive prodding of his victims naturally reveals their weaknesses, and consequently some of America’s dark underbelly. His penchants for racism and Anti-Semitism in particular, are especially prevalent in the film. Cohen’s Jewish heritage, however, allows him to get away with the self-deprecating material. On the other hand, the Kazakhstani people are not quite as accepting and have been fighting against the release of this movie. That’s somewhat understandable since Borat comes off like an absolute abomination of the little-known country’s cultural values. It’s probably accurate to say that he is not a fair representation of the general public in Kazakhstan. Reportedly, some of the film’s content is so racy that many have commented that the film may not be ready for an American distribution without some prior editing.

The comedy has also received a little bit of constructive criticism. The primary complaint has been that the format perhaps works better as a brief sketch than as a full-length feature. It seems that the fictional narrative interferes with the live-action skits. This doesn’t surprise me and perhaps Borat is another example of a television adaptation that doesn’t quite translate to the big screen. The documentary footage may be getting boggled down by contrived developments meant to push an unnecessary storyline along.

In Conclusion: At the end, the only thing that matters is the laughs. I’m hardly concerned about a film’s structure if the comedy can bring me to tears, and I think in this case it will on more than a few occasions. The most obscene material is likely to induce cringing among some viewers, but I don’t think the movie will create any more controversy than something like Team America: World Police. However, I do feel a bit sorry for the good people of Kazakhstan. As far as Sacha Baron Cohen is concerned, he could become a major star soon after this film gets released. His peculiar penchant for zany foreigners landed him a role opposite of Will Farrell in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, where he will play pompous French racer Jean Girard. Since that movie releases in August, I expect it to help Borat get a friendly reception at the box-office once it hits theaters in November.

Similar Titles: Bean, Napoleon Dynamite, Jackass: The Movie, Team America: World Police
November 3rd, 2006 (wide)
March 6th, 2007 (DVD)

20th Century Fox

Larry Charles

Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynham, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer, Pamela Anderson, Ken Davitian, Alexandra Paul

Total: 198 vote(s).


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Rated R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language.

82 min





Borat at AskMen.com

Borat at RottenTomatoes.com

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