A new American movie-films must be a great success or Borat will be “execute”!
In “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit the Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen lets his fictional Kazakh journalist character, “Borat,” loose on the unsuspecting citizenry of the United States. Cohen, best known for “Da Ali G Show,” delicately walks the line between obscenely offensive jargon and completely hysterical antics with his character’s misguided cultural norms that include anti-Semitism, misogyny, cruelty to animals and incest, to name a few.
The film, loosely hung on a plot to learn about, and report on, the culture of America, is basically a 90-minute excuse to allow Cohen to coax unsuspecting people to react to the ridiculous things Borat says and does along his journey. Just listening to Borat speak is a riot in itself as Cohen layers a thick half Russian, half Arabic accent with word combinations and inventions of his own design. Referring to masturbation as a “hand party,” his scrotum as a “testes satchel” or the [fake] Kazakh holiday, The Feast of Shurik, during which fornication with one’s family members, animals and children is allowed.
The Borat character has put Cohen on the tips of some rather important tongues in the international community, including the Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry as well as members of the Anti-Defamation League. The Kazakh government is outraged by Cohen’s false portrayal of its people and the Anti-Defamation League disagrees with Borat’s open anti-Semitism, which is ironically hilarious considering Cohen is himself Jewish. He has replied to the Kazakh government, in character as Borat, imploring them to “sue this Jew,” who Borat claims to have no connection with.
It is safe to say the more controversial elements of the movie do push the envelope dangerously far. Under the guise of a na’ve foreigner, however, Cohen provides himself just enough comedic breathing room to hit the gimme-a-break button.
All in all, “Borat” is a rare comedic gem akin to the quirkiness of “Napoleon Dynamite” combined with the dry sardonic wit and cleverness of all of Cohen’s work. Borat’s tongue-in-cheek ignorance provides a hysterical lever which Cohen expertly uses to exlicit reactions from people that the most creative comedy writer couldn’t conjure-not bad for a character whose usual topics of choice are making the “sexy-time” with American ladies, throwing Jews down a well and the incestuous adventures of his native Kazakh family. Don’t look for Cohen to get an Oscar nod for his acting or screenplay, but then again, Borat probably won’t mind.