Ryan Chartrand

If you’ve been waiting for the best comedy of the year to pick you up and tear your belly in half, it certainly has arrived. Unfortunately, you’ll have to walk out of the theater with a depressing look at your fellow Americans looming in your head for hours.

Coming off an overwhelming five-month long marketing campaign targeting anything that moves, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” has had more hype than “Snakes on a Plane” and a Kevin Federline album combined. The only difference is that “Borat” actually turned out far better than anyone ever imagined.

“Borat” is somewhat of a documentary about a Kazakhstani television reporter, played by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who is sent to the “U, S and A” to learn about American culture and hopefully, in the end, “make sexy time.” It doesn’t take long before the original plot falls apart and Borat begins a quest to “make explosion on the stomach of Pamela Anderson.” Thankfully, it’s worth it in the end (no, your predictions are wrong). He and his producer head out on a road trip to California to find Anderson, stopping in every location waving a “Don’t come here” sign (which can sometimes look like a Confederate flag).

Deciding how much of a documentary “Borat” is and to what extent isn’t easy. It’s certainly a hilarious account of a fake village idiot from Kazakhstan in America, but who’s the joke really on?

Even after at least 40 Jewish jokes, it’s almost as clear as day that Cohen isn’t doing a satire on how Kazakhstanis think Jews and Gypsies will eat them, but rather on the depressing hilarity that is the American people (i.e. the “War On Terror” and seeking to eradicate Iraq of everything that moves). Whether he’s with the idiotic frat guys who could care less about a woman’s dignity or watching an over-the-top Christian song-and-dance session run by congressmen, we’re left laughing in tears yet not wanting to accept the awful truth about our own country.

Cohen brilliantly crafts Borat into being so ridiculous and morally deprived that once he isn’t in a shot, it’s not him we are appalled by; it’s us. It unfortunately takes the brilliant mind of a British comedian to drag every college student in America into a dark room to slap reality in front of them. The fact that he can do it with a surprising amount of entertainment mixed in is actually quite astonishing.

But now that you know it isn’t all about the “I like!” jokes, it’s also nice to know that there’s an immense amount of fresh Borat material to last 1 1/2 hours. The misconception that there’s something to “get” when it comes to the Borat character continues to confuse me, but I can assure you that whatever you may have seen him do on a television show is nothing in comparison to his “documentary.” There wasn’t a single scene that failed to make me laugh out loud and the same went for just about everyone else with an open mind and a good sense of humor. After all, who doesn’t want to pay for unnecessary nudity consisting of blindingly white Russian men running around a hotel naked? Wait, I paid for that?

Similar to “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party,” the actually talented comedians of today aren’t wasting their chance to speak to a broader audience. No matter the issue and no matter the form of satire, comedians like Chappelle and Cohen could very well change this country through comedy and entertainment, the only two forms of expression that seem to connect with younger American voters.

My only criticism for “Borat” is that Cohen went with a more rushed and comical ending rather than trying to make a point out of the depressing statements he’d made throughout the film. This being his film-writing debut, I think 10 years down the line you’ll know him not only as the next Andy Kaufman (which only means we’ll probably never hear from the real Sacha Baron Cohen for a while), but also as the master of satire.

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