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(Review originally written at 19 March 2007)

This movie was probably most and the highest criticized from Kazahkstan itself. Unrigthfully so. The movie doesn't make fun of Kazahkstan, it makes fun of Americans, in a criticizing way. Kazahkstan is merely used as a platform to show the (of course exaggerated) contrasts between the advanced and 'civilized' America and the simplistic Kazakhstan and how a simplistic man, from such a simplistic place, such as Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) is capable of pinching right through the advanced and civilized Americans and puts his finger right on the spot. The movie is about Borat learning from America and Americans. for the benefits of his country Kazakhstan but the question raises; Shouldn't America and Americans also learn from simplistic countries such as Kazakhstan, for their own good and benefits?

Just like in Michael Moore movies often is the case, Borat knows to put his finger on the right place and manages to show America how it really is. An uptight, patriotic, homophobic, God fearing, anti-social country, in which minorities still have a hard time and not all rights are considered equal to some. It's funny, in the interviews it often is not Borat who says the most offensive things, it are the interviewees who do so, such as the rodeo-guy and the frat boys.

But no, the movie is not all criticism. For most part it's just a fun and often also hilarious people about making fun of ignorant people.

In all honesty it's hard to tell how much of the movie was actually improvised and how much of it was real. Obviously some sequences were scripted such as all the scene's in Kazakhstan and some other sequences will make you really doubt. Some of obviously planned the camera-positions are often too coincidental and also the fact that the movie had an actual professional director attached to it, makes you really wonder. It also is hard to imaging that all those people actually took this silly talking and looking character so seriously as they did in this movie all the time. When a person who wears his underwear above his pants and is talking slang is entering your hotel with a camera-crew following him, wouldn't you crack up, realizing that this just can't be for real? The movie is also edited in such a way that the emotions and reactions get exaggerated. It's also are the reasons why you can't really call this movie a fake documentary or mockumentary.

What I loved about the "Da Ali G Show", in which Borat often made an appearance, was that it was improvised, real, often had no point and was all about the responses of the other person on the Sacha Baron Cohen characters. It was fun to see the peoples reactions and how they did respond to the character and its outrageous and often also offensive questions. This movie is overwritten in my opinion. The movie has a main plot line in in, in which Borat falls for non other than Pamela Anderson and makes it his personal mission to find her and marry her. In my opinion the improvising way of traveling through the USA and meeting and interviewing people would had worked way better, in both terms of criticism and humor. Now some parts in the movie feel planned and acted, which is definitely not Borat's strongest point. It also again raises the question of how much of the movie is actually improvised and how much of it was planned, though I definitely believe that most of the interviews and Borat with other people were for real. Ironic, since it was the screenplay that was actually being nominated for an Academy Award.

But all this criticism aside, this is a very fun and also often hilarious movie to watch. Some of the situations Borat gets himself into are priceless and the reactions from the ignorant persons are even more hilarious. They often don't know how to cope with this odd talking and looking character from the far away and insignificant country of Kazakhstan.

There are a couple of especially memorable sequences, such as when Borat and Azamat wrestle naked in their hotel room, after Azamat's 'hand-feast' and then start running naked through the hotel, elevators and eventually ending up wrestling naked in a convention room with hundreds of people in it. There are a couple of more hilarious and memorable sequences but no one really matches up to that moment, that totally catches you completely off guard.

It's all fast paced, which makes sure that you'll probably laugh your way non-stop trough this movie.

A perfectly fun and amusing movie that also has some striking criticism, that could had used some less story and perhaps should had been more like the show.

7/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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