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Review

‘Borat’ lives up to expectations ... NOT!

November 16, 2006

It’s amazing how much hype can surround something as trivial as a movie. Sacha Baron Cohen’s character, Borat, has been making his rounds on every talk show for the past month promoting this film. CNN and other news programs have held debates over it, and foreign governments have issued statements against it. But I think the joke is really on us.

Though Borat’s cultural misunderstandings are laugh out loud, the Americans he and his “producer,” Azamat Bagatov, meet are even more ridiculous.

Borat Sagdiyev is a Kazakh TV journalist who goes to the United States to try to learn how Kazakhstan can solve its social and economic problems. While in New York City, he watches a “Baywatch” rerun and falls in love with Pamela Anderson. He convinces Bagatov to go to California, promising that is where Texas is.

I thought Cohen’s character work was amazing through the whole movie, which then carried over to his interviews. Jim Carrey definitely took the method to a higher level while making the movie about Andy Kaufman, but Cohen has taken it even further.

Though his Ali G character (who was featured in one of Madonna’s music videos) is funny, it was a better choice to continue with the whole foreigner gag. Borat is just so clueless — but you get the feeling that in his village in Kazakhstan he’s probably a pretty smart guy.

The police were called more than 90 times because of Cohen’s antics, and that is real dedication to the method. I don’t know how many other actors would simulate “69ing” while completely naked with another man just for a good scene.

I don’t understand why some people and governments are so outraged by Cohen’s movie. It’s not like Kazakhs are the only people he takes shots at.

At one point on the road trip, Borat and Azamat stay at a bed and breakfast. But once they realize it is run by Jews, they cower in fear until they can run out in the middle of the night before they are poisoned and robbed. Cohen happens to be Jewish in real life, but manages to make his fear of his own religion believable. He even goes to a Pentecostal church and gets “saved” after forgiving Pam Anderson for making the sex tape with Tommy Lee.

Many of the jokes Cohen uses surround his Jewish heritage. The language he speaks is mostly Hebrew (with a bit of Polish and gibberish thrown in). He even uses a Hebrew word for “vagina” (kuscek) as the name of his village in Kazakhstan.

There were only a few parts in the movie that I almost fell off my seat laughing, but most of them were shown in the trailers on TV.  At the beginning he goes to see a comedy coach and the first joke he learns is the “not” joke, but he just can’t seem to get it right. 

He triumphantly exclaims to the coach, “This suit is NOT black!”

There have been several debates on whether or not the scenes were staged and the people were actors.  At the end, Borat tries to throw a sack over Anderson’s head to wed her. 

It’s hard not to believe that Pam wouldn’t be in on that joke, but most of the reactions from bystanders or minor characters seemed legitimate.  I didn’t really care either way because it still made me laugh out loud.  “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” was great joke on everyone,and I didn’t mind being a part of it.

Jenna Lee is a student at UW-River Falls.

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