Time: 84 minutes
Age Rating: Offensive Language, Sexual Material & Other Content that May Offend
Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat Sagdiyev
Ken Davitian as Azamat Bagatov
Luenell as Luenell
Pamela Anderson as herself
Director: Larry Charles
Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen), a Kazakh resident, travels to the USA to make a documentary on the country. While on his mission, he learns that the USA is the same as his own country in many ways.
I had watched Borat for the first time some years ago, I remember only bits and pieces of it, but I recall enjoying it somewhat. With the sequel out in 2020, made just under a decade and a half later, I wanted to refresh my memory of the original movie. I had a feeling that I’d just find it okay but nothing special outside of some scenes. However, it’s actually held up better than I thought it would’ve.
Borat is funny and equally scary as a portrait of a post-9/11 America and the Bush era. I found most of the jokes hit, a few didn’t work as well as the others, but most of the time the humour worked really well for me. The actual story isn’t anything to ride home about, and isn’t anything special. It’s mostly just Borat wreaking havoc in America, and the movie works as that. The movie does satire very well, and was shock humour at its finest. You can tell within the first 20 to 30 minutes whether the movie will work for you or not. Despite some of the things that happen during the movie, it doesn’t actually edge towards being offensive because it’s always blatant that Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat is mocking people who actually believe the offensive things he says, along with the real life people who actually do say and believe those things. Despite Borat on surface level seemingly like a caricature, he’s a mirror of the people who buy into this image and believe him as a person, despite how over the top he is. It is often uncomfortable to watch because you know that Cohen is just pushing some people to their breaking points, but in other cases, it’s pretty clear that some of the people that Borat interacts with actually believe things similar to him. The movie surprisingly has aged well and does hold up, at least for me it did. Looking at it now, it’s hard to believe it was released and made back in 2006. You can tell that some of the scenes that are actually related to the plot were more than likely scripted with the intent of furthering the story, but it doesn’t take away from the experience too much. It is around an hour and 20 minutes long and definitely works with that length, it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
One of the greatest strengths of the movie is of course Sacha Baron Cohen as the title character, which has to be one of the greatest central comedic performances of all time. He excels as Borat, and is incredibly talented to not only be convincing for so long to fool people into thinking that he’s a real person, but also to get people to expose and reveal things about themselves, even in front of a recording camera (something he would do a lot even outside of this character). Sacha has this endless quirky energy which carries much of the movie, and while it’s a pretty obvious statement, this movie would not have worked nearly as well without him.
The movie is directed by Larry Charles, and it is well made enough. It is shot in a fairly simple documentary/mockumentary style. Not much stands out about it really, but it’s pretty effective for the movie’s purposes, especially with the editing.
I’m not really sure that there’s much more to really say about Borat that hasn’t been said already. It’s a funny and outrageous American satire that works very well for what it was, and made quite an impact on popular culture. Sacha Baron Cohen is fantastic, and I think it holds up well enough one and a half decades later. I wouldn’t call it one of my favourite comedies, but I do think that it is worth checking out if you haven’t seen it already.