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Borat - a review

BORAT was supposed to be the most anticipated movie out here in the US of A and in keeping with popular sentiment; I sat through 84 sickening minutes of irritating racist juvenile iconoclastic comedy.

The movie is called “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” and the only time you see that is during the beginning of the movie. The title of the movie should have given me sufficient idea as to how humorless and painful the jokes were going to be, but I relentlessly sat on and endured. I was never very curious or appreciative of Cohen’s directorial skills considering I actually sat through one of his episodes of the “Da Ali G Show”, which by the way, is just as uninspiring as BORAT itself.

So we have this movie with the supposedly hilarious and rib-tickling title – BORAT. And as the title suggests and the previews suggest, it is about a foreigner who comes to America and is funny because he tries to act ‘hip’. Ok, so this character – BORAT – is a homophobic, Jew-hating individual who comes to the United States from Kazakhstan, where he has a career in television journalism. As is the case with other Cohen characters, Borat is also homophobic, is a foreigner, has a strange accent and obviously makes a fool of himself adapting to the oh-so-American culture. Supposedly, the point of Borat is to make American’s understand their bigotry and twisted principles, but at the end of the day, I don’t see how Borat as a film would manage to instigate such self-introspection by potentially racist material.

The familiar retort to an unappreciative reviewer is the absence of a sense of humor. For me, it was an absence to appreciation of such tasteless humor as to actually make you disgusted. And the I-am-better-than-you-because-I-am-Western-and-you-are-from-the-third-world attitude which shines perceptibly through the entire movie makes it all the more disgusting. And of course you have the trademark scenes with Borat struggling to understand the accent, calling US of A, the US and A (oh! Isn’t that absolutely hilarious?), unsuspecting people cringing when he says stupid things, crazy-foreigner accents. In fact, after a while, you realize that the movie is probably not just offensive, it’s just plain unfunny. In fact, the whole movie is about how Borat travels across the US of A, and comes across everyday Americans, and believe it or not, does something incredibly stupid and offensive at the same time, every day. Among the most painful scenes in the movie is the one in which he is invited to sing the national anthem and finally ends up singing a motley version of the “Star spangled banner” which is in fact supposed to be funny. Believe me, the audience was in splits. I couldn’t even chuckle.

The rest of the movie deals with Borat’s quest for Pamela Anderson, caused by watching a rerun of Baywatch in his first day in the US of A. Also included in the movie are his exploits in sexual behavior with a black overweight prostitute whose face is supposed to make you laugh and not feel sorry. And of course, you have the not uncommon reliance on full male frontal nudity and gay jokes for unbelievably cheap comic effect. Not funny, not inspiring, not in the least rib-tickling. If you want least-common-denominator humor, Borat is great for you. It’s a pity that Cohen could not come up with something more groundbreaking than stupid people exposing their own stupidity on camera. Borat, in plain words is vulgar, gross and top of the list of my puke-fest movies, replacing and overthrowing BLACK by a big margin. There will be a few retorts, namely, “This is satire”, etc. etc. People who think this is satire are clueless as to what satire is. Satire is what Saki wrote. Not what Borat shows or tries to show. Well, if only Cohen could understand this simple fact of life, I wouldn’t have had to submit myself to such indiscriminate torture.

Put very simply, this movie sucked. With a capital S. It was not just offensive, it was utter bullshit. I wish I had walked out, but I guess that’s what a few glasses of beer do to you.

It’s movie sabbatical for me now.

Update: This site has an interesting report on how the opening scenes of the movie were filmed. Paragraph to note: Mr Tudorache, a deeply religious grandfather who lost his arm in an accident, was one of those who feels most humiliated. For one scene, a rubber sex toy in the shape of a fist was attached to the stump of his missing arm - but he had no idea what it was.
I don't know for sure how much truth is there in this story, but even if it's 100% true, I wouldn't be surprised that someone from Hollywood did this. Disgusting.

2 Responses to “Borat - a review”

  1. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Borat - Did not Suck ... atleast not with the capital S.

    First, I agree to the least-common-denominator humor. I dont know why you did not like the Ali-G show, but atleast on comic timing, I thought even the Ali-G show is a little more intelligent than Borat.

    I also completely agree with you about the part that you did not understand why everyone was laughing so much in the movie. Seriously, the entire hall was laughing and I was like that wasnt that funny.

    But Borat did have some really funny parts - the one scene in the Church tops my mind. I really laughed in that scene.

    Overall, I think the movie experience was wierd. People laughed at what I thought was not funny - and did not seem to get the better ironies he threw in.

    For example - in the scene where he has dinner with those redneck southern people. People laughed about all the cheap antics of Borat, but didnt seem to get the humor about Borat getting a black hooker to a nice dinner party in a house located on "Secession Street". I wouldnt be surprised to know that a lot of the people who laughed about Borat not knowing how to use toilet in the house in Secession Street didnt know what Secession was.

    Maybe ... just maybe ... the satire is about the fact that when you show Americans this kind of movie, they laugh - they think its funny, inspiring and rib-tickling!


  2. # Anonymous Sandy

    Yeah, the Ali-G show is probably a lot better if you think about comic timing, and stuff like that - but well, I guess the cheap humor just did not impress me at all.

    I forgot about the Church scene, a lot of really painful memories simply obiliterated them.

    I liked what you said in the last line. "Maybe ... just maybe ... the satire is about the fact that when you show Americans this kind of movie, they laugh - they think its funny, inspiring and rib-tickling! "

    Probably why a lot of people were laughing like nuts!

    Maybe I said it sucked with a capital 'S', because of all the rave-reviews about it being the biggest comedy of the year, the most anticipated movie - and a load of balderdash!  

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