No critic would call the humor in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan inoffensive. In fact, most suggest that there's something in the film that will offend just about everyone. Especially those innocents who were set up by Sacha Baron Cohen, who plays Borat, to appear in the film. "They wind up confused and stammering, often unmasked as boorish, bigoted or, at the very least, not so bright," writes Bob Townsend in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. However, he adds, "Be warned: Viewers of Borat are made to feel almost as uncomfortable. ... He makes us squirm until we laugh and laugh until we squirm, holding up a mirror to our darkest fears and prejudices." Lou Lumenick of the New York Post is certainly not averse to squirming. "I can't wait to see Borat, which has twice as many laughs as all of this year's other movie comedies combined, for a fourth time," he writes. That's his opening line. His closing one: "This is the finest and most thoughtful comedy released so far this century." Clearly, the powers-that-be in Kazakhstan are not going to be happy with the reviews of this movie. "That the government of Kazakhstan has taken umbrage over Borat is just the icing on the cupcake of a pretty good joke. What makes the film lift off into the ether, though, is Baron Cohen's skills as a master ironist and physical comedian," comments Ty Burr in the Boston Globe. In his review in the Wall Street Journal, Joe Morgenstern wonders whether all the pre-release publicity the film has received will result in it becoming a monster hit. "Probably so, though who knows?" he writes. "We've become a society that dotes on outrageousness, but also processes it into media Velveeta." And Manohla Dargis in the New York Times suggests that Cohen's outrageousness is the real stuff: "The brilliance of Borat is that its comedy is as pitiless as its social satire, and as brainy," she writes.



03/11/2006