After months of hype, “Borat” finally arrives in theaters. But unlike other films that have wilted under advance buzz, “Borat” doesn't just deliver, actually exceeds its lofty pre-release expectations. Fans of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (and his TV show “Da Ali G Show”) will be pleased, while people like me who are too cheap to get HBO will still enjoy this razor-sharp satire.
The premise for “Borat” is simple: A Kazakhstani TV reporter named Borat (Cohen) is sent to America to report on what makes the United States such a great country.
While in New York, Borat encounters an old episode of “Baywatch” and immediately becomes obsessed with Pamela Anderson, setting out on a cross-country quest to find the actress and make her his wife.
And while the plot is simply filler for the real fun, the key is this: Borat is not a real person - but everyone else in the movie is. It's like an amplified version of “Candid Camera,” with Borat interacting with unsuspecting people throughout America.
Cohen has created a character who is anti-semitic, sexist and homophobic, and who uses his narrow-minded views to show the warts in all of us - Borat interacts with many Americans who may actually be more narrow-minded than him. Some of the highlights include a Southern dinner party that goes extremely awry, and a visit to a rodeo where Borat exposes the rather blood-thirsty views of the majority in attendance.
“Borat” isn't for everyone. It wallows gleefully in its very un-PC humor, but that is part of what makes it work so well. Cohen and director Larry Charles make the unthinkable funny - and in the process might just get you to think about racism, bigotry and sexism.
DVD dandy of the week
This week's dandy is “The Da Vinci Code” (B), an entertaining thriller (based on the Dan Brown novel) that features a solid cast and genuinely intriguing moments.
“Code” opens with a murder in the Louvre in Paris. Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), a Harvard symbologist in Paris on business, is called to assist the police with the murder, although he is actually considered a prime suspect.
He joins a French cryptologist named Sophie (Audrey Tautou), who happens to be the granddaughter of the man murdered in the museum, in trying to find out who's responsible for the murder, and in the process uncover a mystery that could shake the foundations of Christianity.
Director Ron Howard does a nice job of pacing - although the film clocks in at more than 21/2 hours, it moves briskly, with interesting dialogue and nice action sequences.
“The Da Vinci Code” is rated PG-13 and is available on DVD on Tuesday.