Will You See His Movie-Film?
He held a press conference last month in D.C. He made a special appearance last weekend on "Saturday Night Live." And this weekend, the politically incorrect man from Kazakhstan is coming to theaters ... though perhaps not as many theaters as you might think.
Positive buzz has built around "Borat" -- the road trip comedy about fictional reporter Borat Sagdijev, played by Sacha Baron Cohen on "Da Ali G Show" -- ever since the subversive faux documentary screened at September's Toronto Film Festival. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, the folks at Fox have scaled back the number of screens on which the movie releases this weekend.
At one point, people at the studio were "talking about blowing it out super-wide" across the country, a Fox spokesman explained to me via telephone. (He asked to remain nameless -- fear of offending the good people of Kazakhstan, perhaps?) Now, in an attempt to capitalize on that subversiveness and, of course, continue building the buzz, the movie will open Friday on just 800 screens nationwide. Fortunately, Washington is one of the chosen markets, as are other obvious big cities like New York, L.A., Chicago and Miami. Not to worry, though. You can expect to see "Borat" in a lot more theaters the following weekend. "Eventually, it will be everywhere," promises the Fox spokeman.
But should you care? Is the movie even worth seeing? If you're a fan of Cohen, razor-sharp satire or the sight of two hairy, naked guys running through a hotel, then the answer is yes. There are moments when "Borat" misses the mark. (I'm not a huge fan of scatological humor, and there is, um, a load of it here.) But Cohen deserves major props for having the courage to take his inappropriate act to whatever ridiculous levels deemed necessary in the name of humor (please see the "Borat" rodeo scene for proof). I left the theater, not so much with my belly aching from laughter, but with my jaw slackened in sheer awe.
Borat puts even the "Jackass" guys to shame. After all, most of the Knoxville crew's antics involve merely hurting themselves. With a few exceptions, the only witnesses to their idiocy are their equally disturbed companions and a camera guy. Their behavior is shocking, sure, but somehow safe at the same time. Cohen, in the guise of Borat, literally invites the world into his lunacy. He not only dares to make a flagrant fool of himself in front of others -- and if you think I'm kidding, just watch his behavior at an Alabama dinner party -- he dares to make a fool of any resident of the "U.S. and A" who crosses his path. Throughout this movie, over and over again, Americans willingly walk into his trap and rarely escape without looking, well, like jackasses. To quote a less gifted comedian from a nation near Kazakhstan: "What a country!"
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