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Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Borat is the greatest movie in the world.
All other movies are little girls.
Sacha Baron Cohen is a genius. His movie, which has the full title of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, is a work of such singular invention, it can never be duplicated, not even by the man himself.
For those of you who have missed the marketing blitz, Cohen introduced the Borat character on his HBO series Da Ali G Show. He is a Kazakhstani reporter who is traveling America in order to learn about our culture and send back lessons to his native land. All of the segments were filmed guerilla-style. Cohen would don his drab gray suit, grow out his hair and moustache, and go out to encounter real people in various environments. Borat would say inappropriate things about women, minorities, and activities that could be done with horses, all the while acting like an innocent foreigner who didn't understand but was trying very hard to fit in. A few people got angry with him, but the brilliance of the sketches was seeing how far Borat could push his targets, how long they would put up with his offensive remarks and odd behavior under the guise of political correctness. Some people would bend over backwards not to offend the visitor in return, and others would expose themselves by agreeing with him. It's always a dangerous tightrope, but Cohen has the incredible balance that comes with being fearless.
The Borat movie is more of the same, but tied together with narrative moments. For the film, Cohen has added a second character, a producer named Azamat Bagatov, played by character actor Ken Davitian. The pair travels from Kazakhstan to New York and then, once Borat discovers Baywatch and Pamela Anderson, on to California to meet the love of his life. What happens on this road trip is indescribable, and it's best that I don't even try. You won't believe some of the things Borat says, and you certainly won't understand how he got out of some of these situations alive. The behavior he captures is always frighteningly real, and through his antics, he gets the American public to reveal not-so-pleasant things about itself. It's laugh-out-loud funny, uncomfortably funny, and shockingly hilarious. Tightly cut to under 90 minutes, Cohen and director Larry Charles (Curb Your Enthusiasm) have gone for all killer and no filler. Borat has no lag time, no unfunny moments, and at one point the comedy reaches such a crescendo, I swear I couldn't hear a single piece of recorded audio for nearly five minutes. The audience was laughing too loud.
Be warned: if you are easily offended, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan will offend you almost from the first frame of film. If you aren't easily offended, you won't feel left out, as you'll probably be offended, as well. But even as you shake your head in shame for our nation, you will laugh, and you're going to want to go back a second time to catch the things you missed when you were in stitches.
Jamie S. Rich is a novelist and comic book writer. He is best known for his collaborations with Joelle Jones, including the hardboiled crime comic book You Have Killed Me, the challenging romance 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, and the 2007 prose novel Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?, for which Jones did the cover. All three were published by Oni Press. His most recent projects include the futuristic romance A Boy and a Girl with Natalie Nourigat; Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks, a loopy crime tale drawn by Dan Christensen; and the horror miniseries Madame Frankenstein, a collaboration with Megan Levens. Follow Rich's blog at Confessions123.com.