I’ll be honest, after a decade and a half of Borat impersonations and the proliferation of the character’s comedic ethos in social culture, I fully expected my first watch of the movie since its release to be a bit of a drag. But in anticipation of watching the much-hyped sequel I wanted to refresh my memory, and I was delighted to discover that this is still screamingly, absolutely hysterically funny. The shock-comedy antics that made the movie itself a watercooler moment upon initial release haven’t lost either their edge nor their comedic value, in particular the infamous naked hotel fight that still managed to make my jaw drop to the ground even so many years later. The Pamela Anderson angle which drives the movie’s plot is a bit dead-on-arrival because it’s so clearly shoehorned in, but at least she’s a good sport when she makes a late-movie cameo. Although Sacha Baron Cohen is the driving force behind the movie’s long-lasting impact, the real star of the show is the state of American politics in 2006: This movie was made in response to white-hot anger at the flagrant political hypocrisy and social ignorance of Republican voters, and it makes for the best kind of comedy because it manages to push your buttons, confront the corrosively extremist beliefs of Republican voters and provides enough cultural fodder to force a re-alignment of one’s political stance, all while managing to keep the laughs front and center. It’s subversive, brave, confident and often downright gonzo.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)