Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan
"Sub-Jackass, smug, snot-nosed, sneering - looking at American people and saying, 'aren't they all stupid, aren't they all rednecks, aren't they all hicks, let's offend them'" - Mark Kermode, BBC Radio 5live
Mark Kermode felt like an alien on planet Earth while watching his Habs schoolmate Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat, sitting in a cinema in which everyone else was "howling like hyenas", but he was not laughing once. Other critics may have said the film was "so funny it will burst half the blood vessels in your face", but Mark felt that - the opening Running Of The Jew sequence aside (which was praised for being "audacious" and "extraordinary" in the way of some of Jerry Sadowitz's material) - the film was just a process of watching easy targets being hit and extended sequences of gross-out humour. Mark was also worried about the scenes in which Borat attempted to abduct Pamela Anderson, because she looked genuinely terrified and if she was in on the joke then she was a far better actor than he had ever given her credit for.
Around two weeks after Mark's review, a piece by Joe Queenan appeared in the Guardian saying that Borat is effectively an English public school kid laughing at Americans. For Mark, it was a real moment of I say it here, it comes out there. As with Babel and James Blunt, Mark wanted to make it clear that he was lashing before there was back to be lashed.
James King, on the other hand, thought Borat was "hilarious" - and that is was so silly, you couldn't be offended by it.
Comedian Jimmy Carr, who had been being interviewed by Simon earlier on and stayed for the Box Office Top 10, weighed in with a thoughtful take on the film, explaining that he saw the film's humour as being based on meta-racism - about the awkwardness around race issues and people not knowing what to say. When he had seen it in Leeds, there had been two laughter tracks - one with people laughing in a "we're all in on this, we know it is wrong and so it is funny because it is wrong" way, and the other just laughing at seeing racist jokes on screen.