Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Borat comes out this weekend. College of Charleston gave out free passes to see an advanced screening of the movie a few weeks ago, which I attended and wrote about here. It opens nationwide this weekend, so critics' reviews are coming out now along with a deluge of TV ads. The ones I've seen prominently feature a quote from Entertainment Weekly: "Borat: Funniest movie ever?"

New York Magazine's David Edelstein frets over the "squirm comedy" aspect of the film: making the audience laugh at the discomfort and embarrassment of an actual person. Edelstein has a point. The people who interacted with Borat didn't know what they were signing up for, and their responses are actual humiliation, not acting. Or maybe we're laughing because we're embarrassed for ourselves. The people represent a cross section of Americans from all over the nation in all different industries, so the audience is sure to relate to at least one of them. I squirmed when the road-tripping USC fraternity boys in the movie delivered their drunken racist and sexist rants, because I know guys like that. Guys from that walk of life are some of my closest friends, and their prejudices were being exposed.

Scott Renshaw at the Charleston City Paper thinks the movie succeeds because of Sacha Baron Cohen's dedication to the character of Borat. Once you've seen the film, that statement is difficult to argue with.

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