Comedian Cohen is an equal-opportunity offender who does not insult your intelligence


on September 08, 2006 by Kevin Courrier
Not for the faint of heart, this comedy brings to the big screen Borat, an outrageous, gray-suited mustachioed television reporter from Kazakhstan. Created by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for his HBO television series Da Ali G Show, Borat cheerfully and quite inadvertently portrays his country as a backward, anti-Semitic tribal society--"My sister is the number-four prostitute in all of country," he proudly informs us--while parodying our own ignorance and prejudices. In Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Borat sets out on a road trip through the heartland of America to explore its cultural mores, including his own developing fetish for Pamela Anderson, and produce a documentary of his findings. Along the way, he presents a variety of offensive portraits of feminists, Jews, blacks, gays, rednecks and white Christians.

All of this, in the hands of a lesser comedian, might be both patronizing and smug, but Cohen satirizes himself in the process. What he does so brilliantly is send up the outsider as the ugly tourist abroad. Borat is a cultural grenade lobbed on customs and attitudes without his realizing that he's insulting everyone in sight. Cohen's Borat is essentially a naif, an engaging boob, who thinks he knows everything but in reality understands nothing. Director Larry Charles ( Masked and Anonymous ) structures the picture as a mock documentary featuring a series of encounters Borat has with typical Americans beginning in New York, where he just about gets decked for trying to greet subway passengers with a kiss, to the Deep South, where he guilelessly invites a prostitute to a formal dinner, then finally landing in California where he unwittingly sabotages a Pamela Anderson autograph session. Suggesting some of the maniacal skill of Peter Sellers, Cohen so deeply inhabits the character of Borat that all traces of the actor disappear. Borat is an equal opportunity offender that doesn't insult your intelligence. Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen.
Director: Larry Charles
Screenwriter: Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Peter Baynham & Dan Mazer
Producers: Sacha Baron Cohen, Jay Roach
Genre: Comedy
Rating: R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic nudity and language
Running time: 82 min.

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