Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) (mini-review++)

(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)

(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)

acting 7

directing 8

effects 6

editing 8

writing 8

SW SCORE: 37

5 out of 5 🐙

++

There was a point while watching Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan when I could not laugh anymore.  It was not that I didn’t think things were funny.  It was just that my face hurt, and I was too tired to laugh.  

The most hyped movie of the autumn in 2006 did what “the most hyped” movie hardly ever does.  It lived up to it.  Chuck D, in this case, was wrong.

The film follows Borat Sagdiyev a popular reporter from Kazakhstan (a former Soviet republic) and his producer Azamat Bagatov, a man with incredibly large moobs, as they travel across America to find Pamela Anderson. Borat has fallen in love with the legendary television lifeguard from afar and wants to marry her. They roll across the country in a dilapidated ice cream truck and they encounter all manner of Americans and proceed to horrify and amuse them with their peculiar (read: bizarre and hilarious) Kazakh interpretations of, and interactions with, American culture. 

There are too many memorable scenes in this movie to list just a few.  But if you like inappropriate nudity, offensive humor, pristine physical comedy, obscured sexuality, grotesque utilization of body fluids and rubber fists, and wild animals in ice cream trucks, you will love this film. One of the final scenes, a singular battle between Borat and Azamat, made me (and seemingly everyone else in the packed theater) laugh louder and harder than anything since There’s Something about Mary. I’m talking about laughing so hard people were crying.

Borat is a character from Baron Cohen’s HBO sketch show Da Ali G Show.  He is a patently obvious satire of a bumbling reporter from an impoverished iron curtain republic.  Anyone with an ounce of intelligence can see this is not a serious representation.  Unfortunately, there are many people in the world, including the very angry Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayevhas in 2006, who were furious over this portrayal.  There is also criticism of the antisemitic humor that is present in the film. Baron Cohen, a Jewish man himself, no doubt understands that these jokes will offend some people. But I believe, even in a silly comedy, in the context of verisimilitude, he has the right to make these jokes, especially as he paints the character making them as stupid and racist. The audience is clearly not supposed to hold Borat in high esteem. What these critics never seem to understand is that their complaints have brought more publicity, and no doubt sold many more tickets, to this film.  Baron Cohen should send this man royalties. 

But in 2020, on re watching this, it did feel a little odd to be laughing at the jokes.

But don’t let these criticisms, which completely miss Cohen’s intent, keep you from watching this film. Especially in these troubling times, we can all use some belly laughs. And this movie will make you laugh until you cannot laugh anymore.   

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(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.

(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)

(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so

(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)

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