Beware of Borat

Posted: Nov 20, 2006 12:00 AM
Beware of Borat

Recently, two events took place that bode ill for the future of America. The first of these was the election, which saw such buffoons as Nancy Pelosi, Charles Rangel and Harry Reid, assume power and influence they are no better equipped to handle than Daffy Duck or Elmer Fudd.

The second event was the release of the movie, “Borat.” Of the two, “Borat” is probably the more troubling. After all, thinking adults can entertain opposing points of view when it comes to such things as Iraq, the economy and even affirmative action, but I’m afraid that the astonishing box office success of this movie heralds the end of western civilization as we have known it.

As a rule, I don’t write about movies. Although I reviewed them for more than a decade, I rarely bother seeing them these days. However, I felt I owed it to those poor souls who hated “Borat” as much as I did, but were reluctant to say so for fear of being branded square and humorless, to let them know that they’re not alone.

A few of my friends, knowing what a low tolerance I have for dumb movies, were surprised that I went to see it. Well, naturally I knew that the movie was in bad taste, but I thought that just meant that it trampled all over the tender sensibilities of those who adhere to the strictest tenets of political correctness. I thought that it merely made fun of feminists, minorities and other sacred cows. Instead, I found it was filled with bathroom humor of the first grade level. I would have thought its natural audience would be six-year-olds. Until now, I had always thought that “Who is Harry Kellerman and Why is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?” (1971, Dustin Hoffman) was the worst movie ever made with a dozen or more words in its title, but it has now been unceremoniously bumped into second place by “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”

For those of you who have managed to avoid the one-man publicity onslaught of Sacha Baron Cohen, a British comic who co-wrote the script and portrays Borat Sagdiyev, the movie is about a TV personality from Kazakhstan who comes to the U.S. with his producer to make a documentary about America. They wind up crossing the country, having one tiresome escapade after another. I stumbled out of the theater feeling as if it was I who had just made the trip by bus, seated for the entire 3,000 miles next to the most obnoxious lout in the world.

To my mind at least, it’s no coincidence that the name Borat has the same root as such words as bore, boor, bozo and brat.

If you’re in the mood to venture out to see a new movie, I can recommend “The Illusionist” and, better yet, “The Queen.” If you’re in the mood to laugh -- and after the recent election, why wouldn’t you be? -- I would suggest you rent “Groundhog Day” (1993, Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell), “My Cousin Vinny” (1992, Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei), “Midnight Run” (1988, Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin) or one you’ve probably never even heard of, “Bachelor Mother” (1939, Ginger Rogers and David Niven).

Unlike “Borat,” which should only make you retch, these four movies will all make you laugh. And, best of all, you won’t hate yourself in the morning.