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Movie Review - Borat (2006 - United States)
There is an ancient showbiz tradition of creating very broadly drawn caricatures of any group that is Other (meaning: Not Us) and making fun of them. At its most benign, we find Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau (although I'm not sure if the French agreed that’s benign!), and at its most cruel it becomes Blackface.
Perfected in British and American Vaudeville, vintage examples of this form of farce have a unique ability to make modern audiences cringe. (See Mickey Rooney's squirm-worthy turn as a Chinese figure-of-fun, which nearly destroys Breakfast at Tiffany’s , or portions of Cabin in the Sky , another otherwise excellent picture haunted by racial stereotyping).
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In Borat, however, Sasha Baron Cohen made fun of making fun of over-the-top cultural stereotypes. He asks us to ponder and define "why is this funny?" and then apply that fresh awareness to all the other, much less benign examples of this type of humor. It's an astonishing achievement -- oh, and by the way, this movie is very, very funny! (As an aside, Cohen also does a wonderful turn as the classic French/gay caricature in Talladega Nights , again giving it his own very fresh and likable twist.)
Highly recommended, no disclaimers. Humor is of course highly personal, and tremendously subjective. You may not find this film funny, in other words. You will only know if you will or not be watching the movie, so do it.
Copyright © Roberta Lee 2012. All rights reserved.
(I am an artist and the author of the Suburban Sprawl series of novels as well as two nonfiction books. Find out more about my work at RobertaLeeArt.com.)
Rated: R g
Running Time: 1 hr. 22 min.
In Theaters: Aug 4, 2006
On DVD: Mar 6, 2007
Distributor:20th Century Fox
Directed By: Larry Charles
Sacha Baron Cohen - Borat Sagdiyev
Ken Davitian - Azamat Bagatov
Jane Sanguinetti Luenell - Luenell
Pat Haggerty - Pat Haggerty
Alan Keyes - Alan Keyes
Pamela Anderson - Pamela Anderson