Monday, November 13, 2006


As you must be aware by now, Borat is a not really an Eastern European bigot with a knack for making people uncomfortable. He's a British comedian who's made a killing at the box office by pulling off one of the grandest candid camera pranks of all time. Sacha Baron Cohen's character Borat has been the top draw for two weeks in a row now - and the appeal of his cinematic charade is simple: the film is one long practical joke on America and, we the people are in on it.

Have you seen it yet? Lucky you. And have you heard how all of the "real" characters from Borat's motion picture are coming out of the woodwork to say they had no idea the entire thing was a ruse? There were definitely some moments where I was thinking: "This HAS to be staged." But as it turns out, the scenes were actually more real than anyone thought - including the people appearing in them, many of whom are now seeking legal recourse for the way they were portrayed.

Producers allegedly told participants they would be appearing in a foreign-made documentary on American life. Some were even liquored up before their appearance. All of them signed documents agreeing to the use of their likenesses. What these people didn't know was that the ignorant, backward filmmaker from Khazakhstan wasn't really an ignorant, backward filmmaker from Khazakhstan. He was a British comedian filming what would amount to a feature length episode of Punk'd. They just didn't realize they'd been Punk'd until the movie was playing in theaters nationwide.

My review? It's everything you may have heard it was: irreverent, crass, outrageous, juvenile, and loaded with toilet humor - literally at times. But it wasn't offensive in a gratutious way - like, say, Porky's or American Pie. It was genuinely offensive, which, strangely, was probably what made it so entertaining. The film shows real people interacting with Borat, reacting to his disgusting, obnoxious comments and behavior, clearly uncomfortable, and completely unscripted. You actually feel a little bad for them at times - but worse for the conscience of America. And that was the depressing genius of the film, in my opinion.

In exaggerating the fictional prejudices of an unrefined, underdeveloped culture, Borat actually exposes the real prejudices of a culturally advanced and presumably more "enlightened" people. Some of the things uttered by the real particpants in this film will make you sicker than the twisted crap that comes out of Borat's mustached mouth. Sad, really, that in 2006 there were people willing to make such hateful, appalling remarks about minorities, homosexuals, and women - entirely aware that the camera is rolling. It's hilarious to watch the reactions of other people when Borat makes such remarks. It hurts when real people make similarly offensive remarks right back at him.

Still, despite these depressing cultural revelations, I enjoyed the film immensely. Laughed myself to tears in a couple of spots, I am almost embarrassed to admit. I do feel obliged to caution that the movie is not for everyone. Some of the scenes may be a little over the top in relentless pursuit of indecency. If you're looking for wholesome family entertainment, this is definitely not it. But if you're looking for something wildly outrageous, Borat says it best:

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