Monday, November 06, 2006

Movie Review: Borat

5 of 5 stars

I am a fan of comedies. I am a fan of laughing when I go to see a comedy. Though I don't watch shows like Punk'd or Jackass a lot, there is a part of me that loves to see a joke played on someone unsuspecting. For the most part Borat is one long practical joke on unsuspsecting America.

Before I go on, I should tell you that this has more objectionable elements than I have seen in a movie in a very long time. Some of the objectionable stuff is just for laughs. But most of it is useful in the entire point of the movie: to point out how (poorly most of the time) Americans deal with cultural differences. And the movie, as it makes this point, makes a point of making the viewer uncomfortable on so many levels. Most of the discomfort, however, is because you feel like you will throw up the bag of popcorn you ate during the 20 minutes of previews because your stomach is cramping from repeatedly laughing. I mean, after walking out at the end of the movie, I realized I was hoarse from laughing so hard.

The film begins with Borat in his supposed native country of Khazikstan (sp?). He introduces to a litany of characters from his hometown, including the woman he kisses passionately who ends up being his sister (the # 4 prostitute in all of Khazikstan - as she holds up a trophy as proof), his large, ugly wife, his retarded brother, his mother, his next door neighbor, the town rapist, and many, many more. Borat lets us know that he is off to America to make a documentary on America, so that Khazikstan can learn to be better.

Once in America, Borat gets on a Subway and proceeds to introduce himself in typical Khazikstani fashion...with a kiss to each cheek. Of course, New York City subway riders do not enjoy being kissed on the cheek, and when he accidentally releases his hen from his suitcase into the subway, people go nuts. Thankfully, for the movie's sake, he makes it off the subway alive.

Now, the previews do not let you know that there is a plot to the film...plot being used VERY loosely here. Basically, Borat stays up late watching tv and discovers Baywatch and he falls in love with C.J. (which we realize right away is Pamela Anderson - Borat, however, think C.J. is a real person). So, he talks his producer into traveling to California so he can marry C.J. So, they take a cross-country road trip that takes all the typical road trip trappings (meeting people they've never met, finding humor in these new friends, friends breaking up from each other, lots of drinking, etc.) and formfits them to Borat's interview style.

There are several scenes during the road trip that are very telling. There is a scene with a group of high society Georgians that is probably the funniest scene in the movie (and one of the longer scenes - you will be in pain) - it is pure genius. How Sacha Baron Cohen was able to keep a straight face and stay in character during all of this, I really don't know...he really is a fantastic actor. In fact, I recently read an article online where the writer made a case that Cohen should be nominated for Best Actor for this performance and for Best Supporting Actor for Ricky Bobby at this years Oscars. We, of course, know that this will not happen, but I have a feeling that Borat (Cohen) will definitely campaign.

This is a hilarious movie. However, if you don't "get" the sense of humor, then you won't get the movie. The movie is not for everyone, I will admit. There is a scene with 2 naked men fighting, and one of them is extremely fat. While humorous, it is obviously offensive. So, watch with care. If you are easily offended this movie is not for you.

But if you can get past the objectionable elements, you will find yourself enchanted by one of the funniest yet convicting films in a long times.


Matt Herbster said...

I'm not sure any Christian should be able to "get past the objectionable elements" in this movie. This is not a movie for a Christian to watch, let alone recommend. If you would like to read a review - I would suggest this one.

Greetings from the Wilds, Chris.

ChrisSligh said...

Matt, how nice to see your name.

It's funny because I just went through a useful discussion with someone on responsible movie viewing, so it's interesting that I get to comment on my own blog. who knew?

If you feel that Christians, or more specifically you, should not be able to get past the objectionable elements, I can respect your response, but I have to disagree.

In a class I took with Dr. Gustafson, he spoke about the fact that the Bible, if you read it literally is one of the most violent, "dirty" book that you will find, filled with objectionable elements - the point is that the usage of objectionable elements is used to further the story, to make a point, to tell the truth, and to show that the bad guys always get their dues. While I would never stretch to compare the Bible to a movie such as Borat (or any movie for that matter), I think it does give us a basis for our entertainment choices.

We are to think on pure things, but I don't believe that the answer to thinking on pure things is to simply avoid anything unpure because we would be forced to live in the mountains working only with Christians (sorry, bad joke, but I hope you get my point). The answer, I believe for Christ-followers is not to simply run from culture, but run towards it, engage it, be able to speak informatively on the matter, and comment on what is right and what is wrong from a Biblical standpoint.

With Borat specifically, a lot of the potty humor was simply for a laugh. Obviously, from a Biblical standpoint, this is unexcused, so one would have a point in referring Christians away from it. However, more of the humor than not had a point, and the point was to simply point our faults as human beings.

As far as the nudity (none of it male), I think that you and I, Matt, can reference the fact that we have seen plenty of naked men from our time playing basketball, and I personally during my time at BJU and at the Wilds have seen more than one wrestline match between semi-naked to completely naked men. It doesn't mean that I search out the viewing of naked men, but I have a hard time finding offence with something that happens quite often behind the scenes in something that many Christians encourage (sports).

I think that ultimately the question comes down to how you view separation from the world. If you think that to be in and not of means that we do not partake in anything that others might consider worldly, then again I can respect that and attempt to never put myself in your way to become a stumbling block. However, my interpretation brings me to believe separation is a heart issue, and that worldliness takes on various forms that might include something that the world itself doesn't find worldly (for instance at BJU, there is a lot of worldly thinking that goes on about wearing "more professional clothes". The world would think that was silly, but I think it is evidence of worldliness in believers the way they treat clothin in some regards).

To be separate from the world I don't think is a cut or dry issue. If you can handle Borat and come away having not sinned, then more power to you. If you can not, then I encourage you to please view films and entertainment that will never cause you to sin.

Anyway, I hope there's been some kind of explanation. Next time you're in town, we'll have to do lunch.


ChrisSligh said...

Sorry, I should have said that none of the nudity was female, not male.


matt herbster said...


Did you read the review that I linked to? If you really believe that this is the type of thing Christian should see than you have lost a great deal of discernment, my brother.

You said you shouldn't be comparing the Bible to Borat and you shouldn't - so don't! :) I challenge anybody to read the review of Borat and explain to me why any Christian would think it Christ honoring to view this trash. I'm actually quite dumbfounded that any Christian would approve of this. This is not even close, Chris.

ChrisSligh said...


You make some good points. It seems as though you didn't actually read my response, but that's okay. I think that both of us have spent a lot of time coming to our conclusions. We will not change each other's points of views, so there's no reason to waste time arguing. I did read the review, but I didn't really have to since I had seen the movie.

Thanks for posting, though. Feel free to comment on some of my actual theological posts too. It's always interesting to see a different point of view.


matt herbster said...

I did read your response, Chris. I just can't understand how Scripturally you can fit Borat into Philippians 4:8 or Proverbs 4:23 or Romans 13:14 "love does not behave itself unseemly" - I could go on and on.

BTW, I'd love to take you up on lunch sometime. It would be fun to catch up.

Have a great Lord's Day tomorrow.