Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Borat


Borat is one of the funniest films I have seen recently. It has its dry spots, sure, but with a short running time and a very high ratio of jokes that work to those that don't, it manages to keep us laughing - and laughing hard - from start to finish.

The film follows Borat, a TV personality from Kazakhstan, who goes to America to make a documentary about what makes the country great. But once he glimpses Pamela Anderson on Baywatch, he wants to marry her and heads to LA. The lead character Borat is funny without seeming to try too hard. There are no build-ups that make us expect something funny nor are there pauses or breaks that signify a punchline where we are expected to laugh. He simply keeps talking and his sincerity and obliviousness to the reactions/responses to his talking is what makes him so funny.

Borat does the familiar 'fish out of water' routine but with a small difference. The 'fish' usually knows that it is in new territory, feels uncomfortable and tries to fit in to the new surroundings. Not so with Borat here. He is perfectly comfortable with his own thoughts and actions in the new place and it is the people around him who become uncomfortable. So the biggest laughs are in sequences where he meets people who are the complete opposite of him. Borat's meeting with the feminists and his dinner with the high-society types are just brilliant segments that mix both satire and humor.

Borat starts off making fun of his own country. His comments about its people and his actions paint a picture of a country and culture so outdated and backward that it is howlingly funny. But once he lands in America, we're never sure whether he is poking fun at Kazakhstan or America. His own racist attitude is clear but the people he meets illustrate that the attitude is not all the uncommon among Americans either. This look at society, coupled with some surprisingly tender moments that make him understand that beauty is only skin deep, make the movie more than a simple comedy that aims to make us laugh.

Following the recent trend that 'gross' equals 'funny', Borat too has a couple of sequences that cross the line into real bad taste. Borat's naked fight with his manager takes the cake in that respect. It is initially funny but quickly descends into absolute grossness. It does show the lengths that Sacha Baron Cohen is ready to go to for laughs but that doesn't make it any easier to look at.

As long as you are not easily offended(or grossed-out), Borat is a must-watch.

PS: The DVD itself looks like one of those DVDs one burns at home, with the brand name Memorex spelled wrong and the name Borat looking like it was written with a black marker. Pretty neat...

20 Comments:

At 6:50 PM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan said...

we watched it last week..

YUCK!

 
At 6:50 PM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan said...

we watched it last week..

YUCK!

 
At 8:25 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

sundar, thats exactly what my wife and i said during the naked wrestling scene. but didn't say that a lot during the rest of the movie :)

 
At 9:45 PM, Blogger KayKay said...

I LOVED Borat! It's actually a sly, wicked look at America's attitude towards foreigners. The imbedded racism, still prevalent in the South and smaller towns gets a proper ripping. And the fact that many of the people shown in the movie actually thought they were dealing with a foreigner makes their reaction all the more hilarious or chilling, depending on how you look at it. The gracious hostess who quickly turns acid once our hero brings an overweight black prostitute to the dinner table is priceless. When asked by Borat "What'a good gun to kill Jews with?", the casual reply by the gun store owner, "That would be the .35" is mind boggling to say the least. It's comedy with a biting, satiric bent with a truckload of belly laughs. Borat's a rare beast: one who can stimulate your brain cells at the same time it has you doubling over with laughter.Sacha Baron Cohen rocks!

 
At 1:19 AM, Anonymous F e r r a r i said...

I liked it a lot. Some scenes like his sisters introduction, and the one where he presents cheese to the ambassador(or whoever) is hilarious! But as you mentioned, the meeting with the feminists takes the cake!

 
At 7:29 AM, Anonymous vijay said...

I havent seen the film. But I heard that some of the scenes were part of the actual reality show that he was filming as Sacha the comedian, and the people who come across are unaware of this. Something like a candid reality show. were you able to make those out?

 
At 10:17 AM, Anonymous ram said...

i laughed out loud a lot during the movie...but after i came out of the theater, i said to myself, "my gosh, I am glad I didnt throw up!" there were quite a few pretty sight gags that made me turn away from the screen...but yeah, the high laughter per minute ratio made it more tolerable...
in thamizh, i wonder which movie has made me squirm this much...must be "aalavandhaan" or "boys."

 
At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Prin said...

Nice review, BB per usual!

wat are your prospects on the April 14 releases?

Sivaji - Rajinikanth, Shriya, Nayantara

Maayakannadi - Cheran, Navya Nair ~(Please note, I listened to the audio and i found it close to awkardly terrible)

Unnale Unnale - dir by Jeeva of 12B and Ullam Ketkumae fame. Looks interesting. Music by HJ has done soaring business!

Evano Oruvan - One of two possible Maddy movies set for release! Looks the more intersting. The original won plenty of accolades and several reports claim its better than the original.

Arya - Madhavan's other film with Bhavana. Looks like average campus love story also starring Prakash Raj... Hopes Adequate

Koodal Nagar - Bharath's double role movie. Looks rural........better be fun!

My verdict on the outcome:

1. Sivaji - Obvious reasons
2. Evano Oruvan - A psychopathal thriller starring Maddy :-)
3. Unnale Unnale - Romance, Slick, Fun
4. Koodal Nagar - 2 gorgeous ladies, Bharath, Yuvan
5. Arya - Maddy and Prakash Raj after KM
6. Maayakaanadi - Looks like Cheran's been diagnosed with SJ Suryahahitis. Tryin to e cool and urban doesn't seem to click espescially when its slow moving like Cheran's films.

Any views Balaji, Sandya, Ram and bloggers?

 
At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi

this is wayyy off topic, but thought the bloggers here would know the answer...

there's this ooold song of kamal's where he's like a waiter or something and he slides down the stair banister and does all kinds of cool tricks....anyone know which song that is??

and another song of kamal and sri devi where sri devi's name's in the song....they make yogurt or smth in the song...anyone know what that song is??

your help would be greeatly appreciated..

thanks

 
At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

//there's this ooold song of kamal's where he's like a waiter or something and he slides down the stair banister and does all kinds of cool tricks....anyone know which song that is??

Think it's Per sollum Pillai *Ammamma* song or something

//and another song of kamal and sri devi where sri devi's name's in the song....they make yogurt or smth in the song...anyone know what that song is??

really funny desc :) might be vaazhve mayam (Devi Sridevi song) or meendum kokila (Radha) dunno

 
At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Sandya said...

Balaji, Krishna loves Jim Carrey comedies and I can't stand the Ace Ventura and Dumb & Dumber films that he watches as re-runs on TV (God help me or help him? ;-).. Either way, adhuvE thaangala.. don't know if I'll survive Borat..

Maybe, I'm just way too conservative in my comedic needs or something.. but can't stand physical comedy and sight gags no matter what..

(Balaji, I am going to address Prin's query. I don't want him to bombard every post (unrelated) with his query about April 14 releases. Sorry for the unrelated comment. Ram, neengalum mudinjaa badhil pOdungO. I'm hoping to avert a potential Prin bombardment in every post! :-)

Alright, Prin..

I have a lot of hope for Maaya Kannadi & Evano Oruvan.. both look interesting and have managed not to give too much away. Unnale Unnale and Arya are middle ground movies.. it only arouses interest marginally.

Sivaji & Dasavatharam will do fantastic business box office wise, purely based on the hype that it has generated. Sivaji's quality will be at par or a tad better than Indhiyan (because all big stars should be getting the same Shankar treatment). I only hope to see a better, more slickly packaged "Indhiyan" from Shankar in the name of "Sivaji."

Koodal Nagar and Oram Po Auto are two smaller films that I'm really looking forward to. I have a lot of confidence and hope in both Bharath and Arya in general.

 
At 2:49 PM, Anonymous ram said...

Off-topic but here you go:

1. Sivaji --> it'll become a commercial blockbuster. vikatan will give it 43/100 and say, "Shankar Rajni kootaniku Imaalaya Vetri!"
2. Evano Oruvan --> will become a well-reviewed, moderately successful movie. vikatan: 45/100. choice comment: "Nadigar Madhavanuku Shottu; Vasanakartha Madhavanuku Kottu!" (Maddy's penning the dialogues for this movie, in case u didnt know).

3. Unnale Unnale...I am really looking fwd to this one coz Jeeva makes slick, youthful, colorful and fun movies that - even if inspired heavily by hindi/english movies - are well-written...vikatan: 41/100. "Olipadhivu, paadalgall Double okay; Kadhai...hmmm?"

4. Koodal Nagar - somehow think this will turn out to be a disappointment...dunno why but I dont have much hopes for this...vikatan: 38/100. "Iyakunar Kooduthal Gavanam Seluthi Irundhaal Koodal Nagar Kai Koodi Vandhurukum..."

5. Arya - wonder if ppl remember a gem of a flashback in a movie called "Thulli Thirindha Kaalam." if a man (the director of arya) can direct a segment (*-ing karan and raghuvaran at their very best) as powerful as that, then i am gonna check out whatever he makes...vikatan: 40/100. "Maddy-in Nadippil Nalla Mudhirchi...Bhavana Azhagaana Kanngalaal Kavarugiraar!"

6. Maayakaanadi - the stills look terrible...the snap of cheran and navya in those "royal" costumes looked like a 3rd standard fancy dress drama titled, "Adhi Goramaana Raja Rani" but who knows...autograph was a classic inspite of cheran's oatta poatta acting...paapom...magazines will of course hail it as "azhagaana nagara kaaviyam" from graamathu cheran!

 
At 9:18 PM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan said...

we did smile when he kisses the girl and says it is his sister and she is holding her prostitution trophy! but after the naked scene with the fat guy, I was ordered to stop the movie!!

FF-ed the rest and went straight to the end. sad that he didnt draw any lines .. the gross meter just kept going and going!

maybe would have laughed it off in my bachelor days!

there should have been a warning : dont watch with parents or in-laws!!

 
At 10:47 PM, Blogger KayKay said...

Dear Sundar, couldn't help smiling at your experience. For English movies it helps to view it's rating before you decide what company to watch it with. Borat is "Rated R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language", information that can be obtained from IMDB.com or rottentomatoes.com or by reading it off the back of an original DVD cover. Unlike the Tamil movie ratings which can be rubbish (U for Anniyan????), the MPAA ratings have some validity. And with PG-13 ratings itself pushing the boundaries of sex and especially violence (see Casino Royale) the R rating is a clear indicator to clear the room of all parents and in-laws before you pop the disc into your player:-)

 
At 8:30 AM, Anonymous vijay said...

I agree. Inglepeesu padam paakardhukku munnaadi reviewsa padinga pa. Also, sometimes R-rating could be just for violence in the movie(and not any nude scenes) in which case you can still watch with your wife or in-laws provided they dont feel too queasy. For example,the movie "Falling down", from which Dombivali fast and Madhavan's "evano oruvan" has been ripped off from, is R-rated but certainly not unwatchable with your folks.That is, excluding your kids

 
At 8:31 AM, Anonymous vijay said...

"FF-ed the rest and went straight to the end. sad that he didnt draw any lines .. the gross meter just kept going and going!

maybe would have laughed it off in my bachelor days!
"

That is the disadvantage in being married, isnt it? :-) It restricts your choice of movies.

 
At 5:53 PM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan said...

I got a unrated!! disc from BBonline! and the disc was a copy of the original disc which had BO'R'AT written on it with a permanent marker (with the R in reverse like in TOYS'R'US)!

once bitten twice shy!

:)

 
At 8:08 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

vijay, no i couldn't tell the difference. there were a few scenes that seemed like they were meant to be like 'candid camera' but for some reason, i got the impression they were staged too... i remember reading about lawsuits by some people in the film. so maybe they were staged... guess we will never know!

sandya, i'm on krishna's side on this... i love jim carrey kinda comedies though not everybody can carry it off. i'd say 'borat' defly belongs in that category with the grossness pushed up even more! so its a safe bet that u wont care much for it :)

sundar/kaykay/vijay, yep i'm extremely careful when it comes to watching english movies with parents or in-laws. i've still been caught unawares in some cases like 'double jeopardy' but for the most part, i haven't been embarassed :) but yeah action and violence r a lot more accepted than sex when it comes to elders...

sundar, unrated always makes me even more careful! and as i mentioned in the last line, i think thats how the discs have been made to carry the image of the movie on to the disc. i don't think it was a copy. no way they can make copies, esp. so obviously, here...

 
At 5:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

haha so no one else knows which songs i was talking about??....and thanks anon....:)

 
At 11:52 AM, Blogger Kumari said...

Aiyyooooo, ippo thaan i wrote a big comment and it disappeared :(
I dont have the energy to type it again. SO the gist of it :

Liked movie in parts, not whole. The Mr liked it a wee bit more than me forcing the realization that such movies are made just for men :) I am not as sexist as Borat but i think Jim Carrey's Physical comedy was a lot less gross then this :)

Ok if this comment disappears, naan manaseegama inga comment pannen ninaichikonga Balaji :D

 

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