I can pretty much sum my thoughts about Borat in three letters: WTF?
No, I don’t have HBO, so no, I’ve never seen Da Ali G Show. The most exposure I’ve had to Sacha Baron Cohen was his appearance in Madonna’s video for "Music", and my reaction back then was, "Who the fuck is that clown?"
So, no, I don’t know what I was expecting when I went to see Borat. It’s the first non-horror movie I watched where I was ready to cover my eyes at a moment’s notice.
Even after I stepped out of the theater, I had to ask myself, "What the hell did I just watch?"
Borat is without a doubt the most uncomfortably funny movie I’ve encountered. More impressive than a CGI wankfest, more awe-inspiring than a serious Oscar-baiting drama, certainly just as absurd as a Christopher Guest mockumentary (although the only one I’ve seen is This Is Spinal Tap) — Borat begs the question: How did the filmmakers get away with all the shit that went down?
Salon is helpful in sussing out the real from the staged, and certainly a lot of footage must be lying on the cutting room floor.
But puzzling over how Cohen and his producers coaxed unwitting participants to look foolish while being, well, themselves is just as enjoyable as watching the results unfold.
Borat blurs the line between fact and fiction in a way reality television never strives for. The homophobic civic center assistant is just the kind of person I picture who kept the Republicans in power for the last six years.
The Academy would never consider Cohen for a best actor nod, but could, say, Philip Seymour Hoffman inhabit his character the way Cohen does Borat Sagdiyev?
Slight derail: Jette mentioned her brother considers Kung Fu Hustle the best movie of 2005, and I have to say, I empathize with that statement. Kung Fu Hustle was the last movie that made my jaw drop to floor before Borat, and I will go out on a limb and say whoever eventually gets the Oscar nod will have stolen it from Cohen’s hands.
That said, I’m glad I saw Borat, but I don’t think I’d see it again.
There are no additional subtleties to uncover with repeated viewings, and the kind of shock and awe experienced while witnessing bad situations turning humorously terrible is really just a one-time deal. I don’t think it would be as funny another time around.
I don’t watch enough movies to rank Borat for a year-end favorite list, but it is by the far the most memorable one I’ve seen all year.
The word "satchell" will never be the same again.