I guess you can say I'm two-and-a-half for three this year on movies that have gotten way beyond believable word-of-mouth before I ever get to see them.
First came "Snakes on a Plane," which fizzled at the box office but delivered for me just what I asked from it: A big ball of B-movie fun.
Then "Little Miss Sunshine," which was so hyped by fans before I saw it that I was sure I would have to be let down, but amazingly I wasn't. The ending of this one is just remarkable, and it's the second-best movie I've seen this year (after only "The Departed," so far.)
And now "Borat." Several critics have called it the funniest movie they've ever seen, and unfortunately I have to disagree. Don't get me wrong. It is extremely funny at many points, but uneven in others. I'd put it somewhere around 7 or 8 on my list of all-time funny flicks, which is obviously still high praise.
For anyone who hasn't seen this one yet, Borat is a creation of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen that has made appearances on his Ali G show. Though he claims to be a journalist from Kazakhstan, what he really is a mirror on America as he crosses the country, working his way into places he clearly doesn't belong.
What makes Baron Cohen's Borat work much better then Ashton Kutcher's "Punk'd" or even the old "Candid Camera" is that he brings something to the equation. Though much of the movie is about how people react to his very odd remarks, he himself would be very funny even without them.
To me, the comedian he reminds me of most is Andy Kaufman. Just as with Kaufman's best work, there's a big "wtf?" barrier to cross with Baron Cohen's work, but once you get past it you'll laugh as much as you squirm. And, for the most part, his targets show their biases with little prodding from Borat, so he doesn't have to often resort to outright cruelty.
The only time it was too much for me was when Borat and his producer (Ken Davitian) reach the breaking point and have an altercation I wouldn't describe to you even if I could bring myself to do it. Let's just say this: I had to turn away from the screen exactly two times this year, at the end of "United 93," knowing all too well how it would end, and during this very uncomfortable scene.
The bottom line: "Borat" is often laugh-out-loud funny, and he keeps his schtick fresh much longer than any of the "SNL"-character flicks ever managed to. If your sensibilities can take the shock, I recommend it most highly.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Posted by Reel Fanatic at 2:20 PM