Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)

(In theaters, February 2007) Niiice. Well, maybe not: Like all humiliation comedies, Borat‘s laughs are tempered by the realization that the people acting foolishly may very well be us on a bad day or in an absurd situation. The concept itself is pure genius, allowing a mixture of high-concept comedy with improvised reactions… and a justification for a camera recording it all. But the execution usually aims for squirms and pained smiles. Interestingly enough, the film’s biggest laughs sometime come from strictly conventional comedy routines (the bits with the chicken or the naked fighting, for instance) more than the grand explorations of the American psyche, which eventually become not much more than a gonzo documentary. There’s a lot to admire here, but not that much to laugh about.

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