Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan
If there was any movie that spurred controversy over the last month, it was Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan. Starring Sacha Baron Cohen, or as he is better known, Ali G, it was a "documentary" of a filmmaker from Kazakhstan who traveled to America to find out just what we're all about. As it turns out, we are just as weird, rude and crude as he is in some respects.
I really thought I was going to hate this movie, actually. It had the look of an America-bashing hate fest. As it turned out, it wasn't quite that bad. In fact, there were portions that were pretty funny. After an introductory segment in "Kazakhstan", he travels to New York, where the first thing he does is set a live chicken loose on the subway, as well as try to come up and kiss people at random. Needless to say, that doesn't go over very well.
After trying to experience all America has to offer in New York, he is suddenly smitten by a scene in the television show "Baywatch" with Pamela Anderson doing her trademark run on the beach. He decides he has to meet her, so along with his friend, he travels across the United States, stopping in places and generally making a fool of himself with ostensibly pointing out all that is wrong with us in terms of racism, sexism, and just about any "ism" you can think of.
And in some cases, he doesn't do a half-bad job of it, although some incidents are clearly staged for the camera. I felt sorry for the people who played along and were made to look like fools in a lot of cases, but anytime a camera is in the area...well itís probably not a stretch to say that in the days of instant news and movies like Jackass 2, just about anything goes and itís definitely a case of needing to look out for yourself.
As a movie, Borat actually worked to a certain extent. There were funny parts, though it wasn't as hilarious as some reviewers made it out to be, and there are parts that are just downright hard to watch (the nude wrestling scene, which went on way longer than it needed to, comes to mind).
But it has the bad effect of ruining, by its success, just about any other filmmaker's attempt to make any kind of documentary. With just about everyone in the movie seemingly ready to sue either Baron Cohen or the makers of the movie for getting them into it in the first place, most people are going to be pretty reluctant to go in front of the camera for any kind of documentary ever again. After seeing Borat, I can't say I blame them. It was definitely watchable, but you might hate yourself in the morning.