Sacha Baron Cohen brings his Borat character to the big screen with this feature length adaptation of his American exploits. Fans of DA ALI G SHOW will already be familiar with the devilishly simple Borat formula, in which the heavily mustachioed TV host from Kazakhstan dupes a number of unwitting citizens into revealing their deepest prejudices, and this movie takes that premise, stirs in a little narrative structure, and serves a side-splitting 84-minute mirth-fest. The action begins with Borat traveling to America alongside his producer Azamat Bagatov (Ken Davitian). After a hotel room viewing of BAYWATCH Borat decides he must travel to California to woo Pamela Anderson, so he and the long-suffering Azamat take a cross-country road trip in an ice cream van, encountering some funny, disturbing, and deeply strange individuals along the way.
SEINFELD producer Larry Charles lends his directing talents to BORAT, and he gets the balance between the loosely threaded plot and Borat's encounters with real Americans exactly right. At times the movie threatens to topple over into glorious anarchy, with each situation escalating to ridiculous (and ridiculously funny) extremes, but Charles knows exactly when to put the brakes on and progress to Borat's next encounter--although the police are called at the tail-end of one memorable sequence. Keen-eyed viewers will notice some repetition from the TV show, with Borat once again going to a rodeo and again taking etiquette lessons, but it's almost as if Cohen treats each of these set-pieces as a comedic "bit" he is working on, gradually adding further delirium every time he goes back for another shot. Sometimes it's difficult to tell who, if any, of BORAT's participants are actors, but it matters little when the material is this gut-wrenchingly funny, and it's testament to Cohen's talents that he's managed to take a marginal supporting character from his TV show and turned him into a genuine cultural phenomenon.
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