Sunday, February 04, 2007

Six Chuckles

Instead of watching the Stupor Bowl, B and I finally, finally, finally went to see Borat. I’d seen the trailer, which I found to be utterly unfunny, but because of all the hype and the fact that several trusted friends of mine had recommended it highly, we figured we should check it out.

It’s a six-laugh movie. Actually, a six-chuckle movie. The movie was basically a fish-out-of-water movie and not a very clever one at that. It relied far too heavily on the three Ps (poop, pee, and penises). Not that I have anything against the three Ps if they’re deployed judiciously and sparingly—I love all the Austin Powers movies—but Sascha Baron Cohen seems to have nothing else up his sleeve.

Spoiler alert (if anyone cares).

You’re going to show a picture of Borat’s son’s dick? Then show one photo. The shock value (what little of it there was) is totally diluted by showing a second picture of it. That was the movie's formula for every gag—stretch it out beyond the breaking point. The nude wrestling scene between Borat and his grotesquely overweight manager went on far longer than necessary. Two naked hairy guys wrestling. One fat, one skinny. Ha, ha. Let's move on. But, no, there was close to ten minutes of that. Talk about aiming low.

People have said that the movie is brilliantly satiric, but I didn’t see anything terribly daring or new. Rednecks and frat boys are old, worn-out, easy targets for satirists. I’ve seen them skewered much more deftly many times.

Supposedly, these were actually real people who weren’t clued in to the fact that Cohen was playing a role. If so, I think most of them didn’t behave all that badly or shockingly. Sure, the rodeo fans went along with Borat’s suggestion that every last terrorist should be killed, but I didn’t find that funny. Kind of depressing, really, because I was not one bit surprised. America is full of ignorant sheep like them. But then Cohen went too far and blew his cover. A true satiric genius would have been able to roil them up without their realizing what they were revealing about themselves. In the end, the rodeo goers, in my view, redeemed themselves by demonstrating that they weren't as dumb as Cohen wanted to make them out to be.

I was going to try to end on a less critical note—maybe discuss what it was that made me chuckle one of those six times, but now that it’s been a few hours, I can’t recall a single comic moment! I don’t know if that’s a bad reflection on me or the movie.


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