The Good

This film and the attendant Censored Footage make for a great viewing experience.

The Bad

No commentary track? This DVD is screaming for that!

Causing a stir and a litany of lawsuits Borat is the tale of Kazazh Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen), a journalist who comes to the "US and A" to make a documentary on this country. Amidst doing this he becomes enamored with Pamela Anderson, and sets about making some "sexy time" with her. Along the way, he and his producer Azamat Bagatov (Ken Davitian) encounter rednecks, Jews, Blacks, Mexicans, Asians and pretty much any one else you can think of as they shoot their film and go about locating Pamela Anderson.

For those not in on the joke (and I am willing to bet that most are by now), Borat goes into situations to point out how bigoted or narrow-minded people are. By coming off that way himself, he makes them feel comfortable enough to let their guard down and be how they really are. Hence all the lawsuits, because many of the people in this film didn't like the way that they came off.

At the end of the day there are two schools of thought to what Borat does. The positive side is that it allows us to examine racism in our cultural, because the things that Borat does and people's reaction to them says a lot about our society. However, some people feel that Borat promotes racism because some of the people watching this movie and laughing at the horrible things this character says or does, don't know that this character is just playing a joke.

Whatever the case, when you watch this DVD you will not be a passive viewer

Features

Censored Footage

With titles like "Dogs Pound" and "Supermarket," I am sure the Borat diehards are going to eat this footage up. Some people see this kind of footage as Sacha Baron Cohen being rude or distasteful towards other people. Others simply see it as the narrow-minded getting what they deserve. This footage has been edited exactly like the other skits in the movie, and I am sure that it was simply cut for time reasons only. However, I think a lot of people would rather have this stuff in the movie and perhaps some of the "plot" cut out.

Propaganda

Taking up three sections on this DVD they are broken down into Global Propaganda Tour which shows Borat at places like the Cannes Film Festival, Comic-Con in San Diego, and on various talk shows. The second segment, Musics Informercial is a fake soundtrack for the record from this film. Lastly, Coming In Kazakhstan in 2028 is merely a bunch of movie trailers for other films that Fox is distributing. Sadly, I found a lot of this stuff disappointing. I was at Comic-Con when Borat showed up but I wasn't at the screening of footage shown here. I expected him to be a lot funnier at the podium addressing the crowd, but for the first time it seemed like the joke was on this character and his creator.

Video

Widescreen. I am pretty sure that they shot this movie on high definition video. It has a very filmic quality but at the same time I remember the picture not being as sharp in the theater as it is here. While I can do without all the Kazakh music and some of the plot points (was the Pamela Anderson footage and the Black hooker subplot really necessary?), overall this film moves amazingly quick. In fact, there is so much that happens to this character in this movie that it feels a lot longer than it's 84 minute runtime.

Audio

Dolby Digital. English 5.1 Dolby Surround. Spanish, French and Russian Dolby Surround. Subtitled in English and Spanish. This movie sounded good. I have to give Larry Charles and Sacha Baron Cohen credit because these guys got great results shooting this fake film. They got really good sound considering all the locations that they shot in. While I wondered at times what was and wasn't staged, I do think that this movie has very solid production values all the way through.

Package

On the cardboard cover the designers have utilized the one sheet that was used when this movie was released theatrically. The back features a description of this film, a Special Features listing, and some system specs. Take this off and this movie looks like it was bootlegged from Kazakhstan. Everything is xeroxed and blurry and except for a few things, it's all been written in that language. They have even carried this over into the look of the DVD itself which looks like a burned copy you might get on the street. I have to admit, when I first saw this disc I thought that Fox sent me a screener copy.

Final Word

Like Lenny Bruce and All in the Family before it, Borat is one of those movies that a racist and a non-racist could watch and they would both laugh for completely different reasons. What Sacha Baron Cohen has managed to do is look at the way that we use language. While I doubt that he would be happy that somebody used the "N word" or any other kind of racial slur, I think that he would certainly defend anybody's right to use it. In a very real way Borat represents all that is good and bad about the world. I can understand why he offends people and I can also understand how be brings them to tears of laughter.

On DVD this film is no doubt going to be a hit with it's intended audience. The extras, while not as in-depth or as comprehensive as I think fans would hope, do contain a lot of funny moments and continue to show us the mystique of this character. Love him or hate him, Borat is here to stay but I think Sacha Baron Cohen would say he wasn't showing us anything that wasn't already here before.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was released November 1, 2006.