Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan Larry Charles

The first time Sacha Baron Cohen, brains behind HBO’s Da Ali G Show, agreed to do a feature length spin-off of one of his characters, it was straight up embarrassing (see 2002’s Ali G Indahouse). All the show’s best qualities were scrapped in favour of a dumbed down fictional romp that seemed targeted at a demographic entirely opposite to the television show’s. Luckily, Cohen and his crackpot team of writers and producers have learned from their mistakes with Borat: Cultural Learnings of American For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (p.s. sweet title). Kind of. Though the film is predominantly reality-based, mirroring the spirit and structure of the television program (Sacha, as "Kazakhstani” journalist Borat, interviews ignorant Americans with wacky results!), they obviously needed something to make it all hang together as a movie… a plot, if you will. Here, Borat is sent to the United States by Kazakhstan TV to "learn about the greatest country in the world.” Along the way, he discovers Pamela Anderson on Baywatch and sets off on a journey to Los Angeles to find and marry her. As moderately amusing as the idea is, all the weird fictionalised stuff is once again where the movie falters, except on the occasions where it becomes difficult to tell what’s real and what isn’t — then it’s just clever. Sadly, as hilarious as it is, much of the movie is made up of repeat situations from the show (Borat learns about manners, sings the Kazakhstan "national anthem” to a stadium of un-amused sports fans, etc.) and will be old hat for anyone who has seen an episode or two of the HBO series. Still, Borat: CLOAFMBGNOK (!) effectively fills a void now that new episodes of Da Ali G Show aren’t being produced. (Fox)