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Borat - Review


Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

NOTHING you’ve heard can prepare you for the experience of watching Borat, one of the most jaw-dropping and outrageous comedies of this or any year.

Much has already been written about Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest comic incarnation but there’s still plenty to astound and amaze in this hilarious movie.

As openly offensive as it is insightful and intelligent, Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakstan (to give the film it’s proper name) is nothing short of a tour-de-force. It’ll have you doubled up with laughter one minute and groaning with disbelief the next.

The story is simple. Kazahkstani reporter Borat Sagdiyev (Cohen) is sent from his Eastern European country on a fact-finding mission to America in the hope of learning some valuable information about 21st Century technology and attitudes.

But after seeing Pamela Anderson on an old episode of Baywatch, he starts obsessing and travels across country in a desperate bid to marry her.

With his overweight producer Azamat Bagatov (Ken Davitian) in tow, the hapless ambassador begins a journey that will include stop overs at a Jewish B&B and a redneck rodeo as well as cringe-inducing encounters with all manner of Americans along the way.

As controversial as director Larry Charles’ film undoubtedly is, it also displays a sly intelligence that cleverly flips the joke on anyone bold enough to complain – whether they are Jewish, middle class American or even a woman!

Resistance is therefore futile given that you’ll be laughing in spite of yourself at every opportunity.

The most amazing thing about Borat, however, is the way that it consistently feels inspired in spite of relying on a tried and tested formula and jokes that are far from subtle. The film is frequently crude and some situations have already been seen on TV but somehow they still seem fresh and original on the big screen.

A dinner party sequence is especially memorable, as his visit to a rodeo, while a spot of naked male wrestling is both hilarious and wrong – you’ll be struggling to banish it from your memory.

Yet in spite of such excess, Cohen ensures that you’ll still care for his central character in spite of the arrogance, chauvinism and general ineptitude he consistently displays. There are several moments when the film unveils an unexpectedly strong emotional core.

The only real doubt concerns just how spontaneous certain sequences are, given that some must definitely have been staged.

But given the sheer volume of laughs it provides and the fact that it avoids outstaying its welcome, you can’t help but forgive the occasional lapse. It’s a wild, wild ride from beginning to end that has to rate as one of the year’s funniest movies.

Read our interview with Borat

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Certificate: 15
Running time: 84mins