Borat is one of those films made for watching in a group, post-pub session, after a few bevvies. Its premise is simple. Sacha Baron Cohen plays Kazakhstan television presenter Borah Sagdiyev, on a journey to America to learn more about their country and their culture, whilst educating the world about Kazakhstan. Or at least, that’s the setup. In actual fact, Cohen is on a mission to shock, offend and embarrass everyone he comes into contact with, using his bumbling, uneducated, sexist, racist alter ego to coax out extreme reactions from the unwitting public. I feel this film would have worked better, and been taken more seriously, as a Michael Moore style exposé, but is spoiled by the excessive and distasteful humour, calling a black man a ‘genuine chocolate face’ and celebrating the traditional Kazakh festival of the ‘Running of the Jew’, depicting Jews as goblin-like monsters that lay eggs, which children are encouraged to attack. Yes, it is all posed in jest, but the butt of some of the jokes is Kazakhstan, a nation that probably doesn’t deserve it. Maybe it is playing on the perceptions of the public of such countries, but that’s not how it comes across. That being said, there was a nice Laurel and Hardy gag that made me chuckle, and the depth to which Cohen and Ken Davitian, playing Borat’s producer Azamat, sink themselves into their roles is admirable, up to a very public naked tussle the two share in a hotel (“My moustache still tastes of your testes”).
Choose life 3/10