Director: Larry Charles
So I had previously never watched this film before deciding to work my way through 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and I had no desire to. I wish I still hadn’t seen it as I think it is just vile.
While Baron Cohen’s accent never drops Borat is a character in a similar vein to his other characters (Ali G; Bruno) – taken to the extreme, no social awareness and pretty crude. I have to admit that Ali G In Da House (2002) was sort of funny when it first came out but I was 15 at the time and I like to think that my sense of humour has matured since then. I prefer films which have slightly more subtle jokes in than the blatant jokes about a number of taboos, including sexuality, disability, race, that litter Borat. Anti-Semitism is never funny whatever the situation … even in a so-called satirical comedy! The outdated view on women gets on my nerves and may go a way to explaining why I don’t like the film.
The film is targeted at teenage boys with base humour, going entirely for outrage. I found that the few times I did laugh it was more the nervous laughter of incredulity of just what Baron Cohen was doing on-screen rather than genuine amusement. It spawned a number of catchphrases and the unfortunate item of clothing that is the mankini … it just doesn’t look good on anyone!!
“Characterized as a Kazakh elite, Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) is equal parts depthless innocence and stark bigotry. Tall, thin, mustachioed and eager to please, his half-digested slang, anti-Semitism, and pre-modern ideas about socially appropriate behavior allow him to play the buffoon. But these same traits telescope circumstances, forcing people to mis-recognize Baron Cohen’s performance as fact, sometimes demonstrating their worst traits in remarkably bald fashion.” (Garrett Chaffin-Quiray, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, 916) While Borat can be seen as a negative portrayal of foreigners and their customs it is an equally negative portrayal of Americans and their unwillingness to embrace anyone who is slightly different.
“Watching our bumpkin wander into the wide world and discover he’s a rube and philosopher, the brunt of his adventures actually falls on his interview subjects who presume their superiority, thereby exposing themselves as hate-mongers and fools.” (Garrett Chaffin-Quiray, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, 916) I have to admit that he has been very clever in the way he manages to expose the ignorance and prejudices of the people he encounters on his travels, but that isn’t enough to redeem it in my eyes.
How did it do so well? Am I just not getting it at all? I really do not see the charm of this film at all and its 2 hours of my life that I would quite happily have back!!