I don’t know much about Khazikstan. A quick look in wikipedia tells me that it’s the 9th largest country by landmass, and has an adult literacy rate higher than the US of A This, one realizes, as one watches “Borat! Cultural Leanings of America to Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan“, is more than most Americans know.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or perhaps in a “backward central Asian country”, you’ve probably heard about this movie. A British comedian toured the “US and A” completely in character as the titular Kazakh journalist, leading people to believe that he is making a documentary. The result is a portrait of America through the eyes of a racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic dolt, who, it must be said, fits in rather well with the locals at times.
Based on the premise, this movie could have been great: the potential for satire is amazing here.
So what did I think? It was hilarious. But, that’s all. It wasn’t clever, like a Monty Python sketch that makes you repeat it in your mind over and over. It didn’t have much of a larger social point to make like most good satire. Perhaps I am just so jaded that homophobic rodeo cowboys, sexist college kids and uptight New Yorkers seem run-of-the-mill. Even the creationism failed to excite me (Borat goes to a religious revival and makes friends with “Mr. Jesus”). At least this lack of punch is counter-balanced by Borat’s endless crazy antics that go way over the top time and time again.
I left the theatre actually wishing Borat had broken character a little here and there. I wanted to know more about how they fooled people into thinking he was really from Kazakhstan. I wanted to know who was “in” on the joke and who wasn’t. I want to know if Borat and his “producer” were simply talking in gibbersih when they spoke to each other. And, most of all, I wanted to know how Borat managed to stay out of jail, considering some of the crazy stunts he pulled.