The movie has everything you’d expect from Cohen’s mustachioed alter ego, the brutally un-PC Borat Sagdiyev. From beginning to end, Borat is filled with casual allusions to incest and rape, embarrassing interviews with unsuspecting politicians (including right-wing nut job Alan Keyes – or as Borat describes him, “a real chocolate face”), unenlightened remarks about women, homosexuals, and of course, Jews (though in real life, Cohen himself is a practicing Jew). While the film does drag at times – even Borat loses some of his mystique after an hour-and-a-half – on the whole, Cohen manages to pull it off.
We dare you to keep a straight face when Borat tries unsuccessfully to learn the art of the ‘not’ joke, much to the frustration of his teacher; or the segment in which he invites an overweight, scantily-clad, black (tranny?) call girl to a small dinner party hosted by Southern, former-slave-owning types; or finally, when he attends a hardcore Texas church service – the kind of scary shit that we New York liberals cannot even fathom, complete with religious fanatics writhing about, speaking in tongues. Those who haven’t seen Da Ali G Show are likely to find the movie especially riotous, while longtime fans may feel slighted, as the material is sometimes a bit too familiar. But as long as you don’t expect more from Borat than a movie of its kind can deliver, you won’t be disappointed.
(A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN YRB MAGAZINE COPYRIGHT © 2007)