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Thoughts on Borat

The single most striking aspect of Borat is that is constantly ventures beyond limits of decency. The writers have compiled a list of violations to be committed and twisted the situations to write comedy sketches: Borat finds his sister showing off her vagina to her mentally retarded brother and tantalizing "you'll never have this" as funny; he is offended when he learns that women can choose their sex partners; he says that of the problems plaguing his country are social, economic and jewish; he says that women have brains comparable to that of a squirrel's at a feminists meeting; and much more.

If you're sensitive and you're either a jew or a muslim or a woman's rights activist or a Kazakh or a very normal human being, your blood pressure will have shot up at the end of the movie. If you're thick skinned when it comes to matters of religion, gender or race, you will laugh at least two times during the running length - the humour is not only of the offensive kind, but there's also silly, childish and slapstick. Borat tumbles here and there in an antique shop, and he does that in a believable manner. He asks "is this a cat with a hat?", looking at a tortoise. The basic premise of the movie - travelling to Los Angeles to marry Pamela Anderson before she loses her virginity is itself ludicrous.

I wondered if the MPAA guys found it so funny that they lost their senses and awarded a lenient R, for the movie features a nude fight between two grown men. That scene alone should have earned the movie an NC-17 rating. The photography and music lends comedic value at times - when Borat sees a dirty video of Pamela and later laments, the music director weeps as if Borat's tears aren't enough to make us laugh. There is not much for the director to do here - the major credits, if you're inclined to call it so, should go to the writers: there are so many laughs, gags, pulls, triggers, insults, explanations, interpretations.... conceived on the paper and Cohen delivers them with a childish frankness.

At the end of the movie I just felt like watching 3 or 4 adult rated comedy sitcoms back to back. This is the kind of movie that takes pride in it's immaturity. Mildly refreshing, kept me smiling, but at the end I just hurried to the bathroom and then never again thought about the movie.

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4 Responses to “Thoughts on Borat”

  1. # Anonymous Anonymous

    I like such movies which treat nothing sacrosanct...

    Cheers
    Varahasimhan.  

  2. # Blogger Prasad Venkataramana

    Your comment reminds me of Rushdie: Where there is no belief, there is no blasphemy.  

  3. # Anonymous Anonymous

    I'm not a borat fanboy, but from your review, it looks like you might've missed the point of the movie. It is to put ordinary people in uncomfortable/funny/weird/pressure situations to show how they react. One of the high points was to bring out the dormant anti-semitism among ordinary americans. Watching the movie as one would watch a comedy movie is not enjoyable.  

  4. # Blogger Prasad Venkataramana

    Anon,
    I get the first point - many common citizens are pushed into tight corners - which is quite funny. The part about anti-semites - quite difficult to comprehend.  

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