Fast-Paised review: 'Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan'

EntertainmentMoviesTelevisionPamela AndersonMusic IndustryJay RoachKen Davitian

Kazakhstani reporter Borat (British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen) travels to the United States to learn about U.S. culture, but watching a "Baywatch" episode gives him a new goal: driving cross country to find and marry Pamela Anderson. The film is expanded from Cohen's character on "Da Ali G Show" and features unscripted scenes involving everyday Americans who supposedly aren't in on the joke.

Big question: Is "Borat" as funny and smart as "Da Ali G Show," or is the Kazakhstan president right to complain about the image being projected about his people?

Catch it: Like a socially insightful version of "Punk'd," "Borat" finds Cohen's incredible improvisational skills gathering gloriously offensive statements from public officials and normal citizens. Borat is an ingenious character--a prism through which the world's ignorance is able to shine--and his movie is very ridiculous, very politically incorrect and so, so funny.

Skip it: If you can't detect satire. Taking any of Borat's behavior as authentic to his country makes you as clueless as he is.

Bottom line: A few scenes--including a fight between two naked men that even the "Jackass" guys wouldn't attempt--set aside cleverness for some easy comedy, but they're few and far between. "Borat" doesn't mock the victims of prejudice but the intolerance itself, calling out bigotry and stripping it naked in a way that somehow never seems self-satisfied. You will have a gigantic, goofy grin plastered on your face for nearly every second, and your cheeks will take hours to recover.

Bonus: Wondering how Cohen persuaded the unsuspecting people onscreen--many of whom are exposed as racist, sexist or just plain stupid in the presence of Borat--to sign the release to be in the movie? Perhaps Borat offered the services of his sister, "the number four prostitute" in Kazakhstan.

Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.

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'Borat'

Directed by Larry Charles; screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham and Dan Mazer; cinematography by Anthony Hardwick and Luke Geissbuehler; edited by Peter Teschner and James Thomas; music by Erran Baron Cohen; produced by Sacha Baron Cohen and Jay Roach. A Twentieth Century Fox release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:22. MPAA rating: R (for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic nudity and language).

Borat - Sacha Baron Cohen

Azamat - Ken Davitian

Luenell - herself

Pamela Anderson - herself

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