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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 11/ 1/2006

Will You See His Movie-Film?

By Jen Chaney

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!"

By Jen Chaney  | November 1, 2006; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Movies  
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saw it at a sneak preview. the moviefilm is amazing! I'm going to see it again next week. just hilarious.

Posted by: cah | November 1, 2006 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I can't wait to see this movie, but I am also a fan of his show on HBO. So in a sense I already know what I'm getting into.

Posted by: TMPete | November 1, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I think Borat is really almost too funny for a full-length film. While his supposed target is Kazakhstan, let's face it, he's a British person mocking the United States. It would probably be less-controversial if he poked fun at himself, such as mocking the UK. There's a fine line between Cohen's Anti-Semitic Kazakh and Mickey Rooney's "Mr. Yunioshi" yellowface performance in Breakfast at Tiffany's. While Borat can be HILARIOUS I think Dave Chappelle had it right, does that laughter come from a good place inside of us or a bad, racist place? When it comes to Borat, after we laugh, a thoughtful person should self-reflect on that.

Posted by: Bethesdan | November 1, 2006 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Will there be any midnight screenings Thurs night/Fri morning anywhere in the area?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Of course I'll see it...dude is hilarious.

Posted by: Alice | November 1, 2006 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Cohen is brilliant, the best satirist of our age, and should shock all viewers into some soul-searching. As a petite, blonde, Jewish woman with light-colored eyes and fair skin, I have been subjected to some extremely outrageous anti-Semitic comments over the years, all from highly educated, dignified, model citizens. Anything that makes us think is all good, totally.

Posted by: Ziporah | November 1, 2006 3:37 PM | Report abuse

This will be one of the few films I will go see this year. Loved the show when I still subscribed to HBO. Hope he makes a film will Ali or Uni.

Posted by: don wallin | November 1, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I cannot wait to see this Jew.

Posted by: Jagshemash | November 1, 2006 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Jagshemash!I just bought tickets to the midnight show tomorrow. Can't wait. I heard that this moviefilm was privately screened before some of Hollywood's comedic "old guard" and they said that Cohen's approach to comedy is new, fresh, and revolutionary. Chenquei!

Posted by: Matt in DC | November 1, 2006 4:19 PM | Report abuse

While I'm looking forward to seeing the movie, I'd be interested in the Post's readers and their opinions about whether Borat will "play" in middle America. In order for satire to be successful, your audience has to have some familiarity with the subject and a willingness to mock it.

Posted by: bobpiano | November 1, 2006 6:10 PM | Report abuse

My girlfriend and I saw a sneak preview and contrary to the criticism above, were in serious belly pain by the time it ended. The trailers and ads have sparked memories of so many outrageously funny scenes that we're dying to see it again, and can't recommend it strongly enough. Yes it's scatological and base on one (big) level, but there's so much more to Mr. Cohen's humor and the selection of his satire's targets that to compare it to Jackass is pretty ludicrous. The fact that the Jackass audience will love this is totally cool, but this is tearfully-funny humor that explodes in the brain as well!

Posted by: Joseph | November 1, 2006 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Borat has been sending up the British for sometime. The natural extension is the U.S. and A. The Kazakh government is furious and everybody still doesn't get it.

The world takes itself so seriously that we're now killing each other over perceived insults. C'mon people - laugh at yourselves. Seriously, there are world leaders and opinion makers who think Borat is genuine.

Want proof? Hugo Chavez is planning to offer Borat a weekly news analysis slot on Telesur. Chavez wants to to co-host!

Now that would be hilarious.

Posted by: saltzone | November 1, 2006 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know which, if any, theaters are offering midnight showings on Thursday night?

Posted by: Raj | November 1, 2006 6:52 PM | Report abuse

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