Sunday, November 05, 2006

Borat arrives: God help this country.

Borat infiltrates the U S and A.Unless you have been trapped in a closet R. Kelly-style over the past few weeks, you are probably completely sick of all of the hype around the Borat movie, which was just released on Friday. I have been a long-time fan of Borat the Kazakhstani reporter, and of Da Ali G Show from which his character originated. I was aware that a movie was being filmed quite some time ago, but my hopes were not initially very high for it, since the movie based on the Ali G character ("Ali G in Da House") ended up being lame. But then about six months ago, I was randomly stopped while waiting in line for a movie and was asked to preview parts of the Borat movie and give my impressions for some market research. What I saw was HILARIOUS, and my expectations started rising.

Aren't you jealous of my official Kazakhstan t-shirt?Then it just so happened that my brother's girlfriend JB got SENT TO KAZAKHSTAN of all places for her job, so the "connection" to Borat grew. As last Friday neared, it was literally impossible to avoid the promotion of the movie - Borat was EVERYWHERE - from CNBC to Good Morning America to Conan to Jon Stewart to Saturday Night Live - you name it. The first four minutes of the movie were linked up on YouTube, and the incredibly positive reviews started rolling in.

I avoided all of it so as to not be utterly annoyed by the movie before I even saw it.

But I DID see it opening night, of course, and rocked the authentic Kaz t-shirt (courtesy of JB) while in line. I somehow scammed out of waiting in the actual roped off line the theater had set up for that showing, and got choice seats right in the "middle-middle." I had arrived at 5 PM for a 6 PM showtime, and even at that early point, ALL shows for the rest of the night (they went until 11:45 PM) were already sold out...

Just be glad they have clothes on.The movie did not disappoint. While I don't think it is the "funniest movie ever made" as Entertainment Weekly is claiming, it definitely has charted new mockumentary territory. Most of the "typical Americans" interviewed by Borat as he makes his way across the country have absolutely no idea that he is NOT really from Kazakhstan, and some of the things that come out of their respective mouths are so funny that no one would've ever been able to write a script as good. However, other things that are said by some of the unsuspecting interviewees are downright nauseating. So while about 80% of the movie was light-hearted and humorous, 20% uncovered a very ugly side to this country that should make all of us very, very scared.

I think I probably ended up not liking it as much as most people did/will simply because I prefer escapism over reality when I go to the movies, and since what happens in Borat is essentially real, it was hard to laugh at all of the shameless ignorance parading around on-screen. That was certainly not Borat/Sacha Baron Cohen's fault, but I seriously cannot imagine the consequences the people who unknowningly appeared in the movie are facing now. But once again, by and large Borat is worth seeing and I would recommend it. It also unexpectedly took the #1 spot this weekend, so it seems to be living up to its hype.

When we left, it was absolute mayhem at the theater, to the point where our cab driver asked us why it was so crazy. I had to agree with him... I go to a ton of movie openings and I had never seen it that chaotic. All I could think of to say was, "Borat."

- e