Jagshemash! Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest comedy creation - Kazakhstani gypsy catcher turned journalist Borat Sagdiyev – makes his big screen debut in a scathing satirical attack on bigotry, misogyny and racism in the western world.
Shot on a tiny budget (Borat informs us: “It cost 5000 US dollar. Ministry of Information supplement budget by selling uranium to some brown men”) we follow our intrepid hero on a road trip from New York to LA as he strives to learn more about the mighty “US of As”.
Stopping off at various points along the way to interview unsuspecting victims, Baron Cohen exposes the prejudices and hypocrisies present in modern day America … as well as molesting Pamela Anderson and wrestling with a naked fat bloke in the middle of a hotel lobby.
It’s been impossible to avoid Borat over the last month as he popped up in a series of outrageous publicity stunts that culminated in a visit to the White House to invite "Premier George Walter Bush" to a screening of his movie.
In fact, Baron Cohen has created such a buzz about his moustachioed moron’s big screen debut that at one point members of the IMDB website rated it as the best comedy ever made … a full month before anyone had even seen it!
So it is a welcome relief that we can confirm the movie really does live up to the hype.
Following the same tactic as he did with Ali G, Baron Cohen uses his idiotic alter-ego to lull unsuspecting interviewees into a false sense of security before prompting them, through provocative questioning, to reveal their own hateful prejudices.
For example, only seconds after introducing himself to a rodeo crowd in Texas he has them clapping and cheering as he shouts "May George Bush drink the blood of every man, woman and child in Iraq!". What is most amazing about Baron Cohen however, is his quick wit, comic timing, and ability to stay in character at extreme moments (he nearly gets beaten up on a tube after kissing a male passenger) ... along with the horribly racist jokes of course.
Using his own Jewishness as a full-proof defence he launches a string of attacks on his fellow Hebrews (Borat calls them shape-shifters and throws money at cockroaches that he believes to be Jews in disguise), women (“In Kazakhstan allowing women to drive is like letting monkey fly spaceship”) and the disabled (“my brother he retard, we keep him in cage and laugh. He love it!") that no-one else could get away with.
Critics will no doubt argue that Baron Cohen’s portrayal of Kazakhstan as a nation of raping, in-bred degenerates shows him to be one of the very bigots he is attacking.
However, it seems clear that he is actually mocking ignorant Westerners who know nothing about an oil rich country that is 11 times the size of the UK and stretches across huge parts of Europe and Asia.
Baron Cohen was involved in the ARA (anti-racist alliance) during the 80s, marching against fascism in London, and his Cambridge dissertation has been described as “a major work of importance on the civil rights movement”.
With an RRP of £22.99 and a surprisingly lacklustre special features package, it's a good job Borat was by far the funniest film of 2006.
With no director’s commentary or comment from Baron Cohen as himself, all we are left with is a collection of deleted scenes, spoofs and promotional footage of Borat as he pratfalls his way around the globe.
It would also have been nice to hear a bit about the numerous lawsuits that have sprung up since the film’s release, including one from the camper van frat boys who have filed a complaint for “fraud, rescission of contract, common law false light, statutory false light, appropriation of likeness and negligent infliction of emotional distress”.
Anyone unsure about whether they want to part with this much cash for the DVD might do well to go on YouTube first, as plenty of the deleted clips can be found here if you’re prepared to look hard enough.
Borat is merely an extension of this desire to highlight bigotry and stupidity around the world, particularly in America, and – despite a directionless final half hour - his movie is the funniest comedy of the year. Naaice!
Staring: Sasha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian, Pamela Anderson
Extras: Kazakh Police Warning Video, "Sexy Drown Watch" - Bay Watch Spoof, Deleted Scenes: Dog Pound / Doctor's Office / Police Pullover / Supermarket Cheese, "Best Of" Deleted Scenes Montage - Compilation of great deleted scenes: Massage (all extended versions vs. what was seen on the internet) / Krystal Burger / Tattoo Parlor / Physic / Plastic Surgeon / Civil War / Travel Agency / Loan Offer, Rodeo News Report, Borat Promotional Tour For Make Benefit Movie Film - Premiere and promotional footage, Soundtrack Infomercial featuring Borat