Throwback Movie Review: Borat

Throwback Movie Review: Borat

Brian Sandler, Staff Writer

What do you get when you cross a determined news reporter, hideous yellow mankinis, mustaches more appropriate in the 80s and the comedic talents of England’s Sacha Baron Cohen? You get Borat, that’s who!

Our titular protagonist, tasked to trek to the glorious US of A for his glorious nation of Kazakhstan, must learn all about this strange new land, all while trying not to get himself arrested, killed or dumped by his beleaguered travel companion Azamat. (Ken Deviatian) When he discovers the existence of the elusive CJ (Pamela Anderson), Borat must endure angry rednecks, drunken college kids, etiquette instructors and all sorts of crazed characters. Will he make it back to Kazakhstan in one piece, or will America win over?

Although I had first seen Borat in theaters when it was originally released in 2006, I can say with certainty that most of the jokes flew over my 11-year-old head. At the time, I was more amused by Borat’s tendency to walk around in a bizarre bathing suit, as well as drive an ice cream truck containing a bear. Little did I know, there was a much smarter, more satirical film bubbling underneath, one that my young mind was probably not designed to be aware of.

Indeed, part of Borat’s charm (aside from his hilariously memorable catcphrases such as “Jagamesh!”) derives from the unique production behind the film. Sacha Baron Cohen did not intend to create a traditional comedy film, but rather a sort-of shock comedy mockumentary.

Cohen’s goal was to pose as a foreign journalist who was filming a documentary on the culture of the United States, all while secretly tricking his unsuspecting interviewees into revealing aspects of themselves that they probably never would have otherwise. Many of his subjects did not realize that he was meant to be a mocking portrayal of how ignorant people in their country thought foreigners behaved, while others unabashedly told this seemingly unusual man their darker thoughts. (A rodeo leader tells Borat that he wishes gays were mistreated, for instance.)

Ultimately however, Borat is simply a hilarious film. There were few moments during the movie where I was unable to laugh. Early in the film, when Borat arrives to America, he greets several pedestrians in New York City, with most of them reacting violently. (One man threatens to attack Borat if he continues to speak to him.) The running gag of Borat being intent on locating “CJ”, which could have been creepy in other movies, ended up being hysterical here, since Borat is shown to have no ill intentions, just a naiveté that makes him endearing.

His friend Azamat, while not coherent to the English speaking audience, is a great foil for Borat, with his nagging, irritable nature, as well as his comically diametrically opposite appearance from Borat. While the ending does end on an obligatorily happy note, it nonetheless is a riot, with Borat marrying Luenell and “educating” his village by giving them trinkets such as iPods (this film DID come out in 2006).

So if you’ve seen this great movie already, hi-five! If not, then watch it now!