Sunday, November 12, 2006

Movie: Borat (2006)

In criticism and on op-ed pages, questions are being raised about this comedy. Who, exactly, is it mocking? Are the jokes at the expense of foreigners? Or is the movie’s target Americans? If so, which kind? Those who secretly harbor prejudices? Or who are so politically correct that they stand idly by while others air those prejudices? Or who live in such cultural ignorance that they will accept, if not expect, boorish behavior from those unlike them? Are the wrong people laughing at this movie, or are people laughing at the wrong things? Are you going to finish that?

I’m not going to answer any of these questions. I lost my Congressional bid; I don’t have to have a position on everything. I will, however, offer the following observations:

1. Borat is hilarious.

2. It’s the first genuine cultural phenomenon in who knows how long. We saw it at a sold out late Saturday matinee. Entire families were there, from little kids to grandmothers. The atmosphere in the theater as the lights went down was more like that of a rock concert.

3. For all the emphasis on Borat’s improvised encounters with people, it’s the scripted scenes that show Sacha Baron Cohen’s peerless understanding of comedy.

4. I cannot get the phrase “like the sleeve of a wizard” out of my head.

5. I’m sure I’m missing the point here, but I haven’t seen a movie that filled me with such love of country since The Right Stuff. The U.S. and A. isn’t perfect, but a boob like Borat can work his way from one end to the other without being arrested or beaten to a pulp. That is something to be proud of.