Dir: Larry Charles. US.2006. 82mins.

A hand grenade lobbed towards the American heartland,mockumentary Borat explodes with intermittently uproarious results. Fansof Sacha Baron Cohen's enthusiastic Kazakhstanreporter and his television escapades will not be disappointed by a featuredebut filled with caustic encounters and razor-sharp observations. Others mightwonder what all the fuss is about; Borat may hit the bullseye moreoften than not but then again it is taking aim at some fairly unmissable targets. Commercially, the film should easilyperform at the same level as Sacha Baron Cohen's Ali G Indahouse- if even better in the US- and the similarly outrageous TeamAmerica or television transfer Jackass.

A creation that calls tomind some of the more outlandish alter egos of Peter Sellers, Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) is a gleefully upbeat, moustachioed television reporter from Kazakhstan. Thefilm begins in his native village which could easily provide the backdrop foran Emir Kusturica epic. Boratis soon to leave on a fact-finding mission to America and his subsequent roadtrip is sustained by his insatiable curiosity about American mores and his suddenabiding passion for former Baywatchbabe Pamela Anderson.

Structured as a series ofencounters with archetypal Americans and blundering intrusions into sacred institutionslike a rodeo, a gospel meeting and a TV studio, the film is essentially sketchbased with set-up, gags and pay-off repeated before moving on to the nextsituation. The result is a little bitty and begins to wear out its welcomebefore concluding its sensibly brief running time.

Within the restrictions ofsuch an approach, Boratproves to be an equal opportunities offender as it mercilessly satirises America'spride and prejudice, taking pot shots at Jews, feminists, the gay community andreligion. Borat is constantly open to new experiencesand shocked at some of the home truths he discovers from the miracle of indoorsanitation to the rudeness of most New Yorkers faced by a foreigner who merelywishes to kiss them and shake hands as a form of friendly greeting.

Sacha Baron Cohen's energetic and often very physicalperformance ensures that Borat remains an engagingeveryman figure. This is a movie that makes you wary of the patronisingway in which we are asked to laugh at the ridiculous naivety of a backwardforeigner but also deftly turns that discomfort on its head as he exposes thecultural shortcomings of his host nation.

The cutting edge of thesatire is felt most keenly in a sequence where Boratgives a rabble-rousing address to a rodeo, heartily supporting the war onterrorism before turning the crowd's adulation against him as he sings aversion of the Kazakhstannational anthem to the tune of the American national anthem.

Production company
One America

20th Century Fox

Executive producers
Dan Mazer
Monica Levinson

Sacha Baron Cohen
Jay Roach

Sacha Baron Cohen
Anthony Hines
Peter Baynham
Dan Mazer

Anthony Hardwick
Luke Geissbuhler

Peter Teschner
James Thomas

Erran Baron Cohen

Main cast
Sacha Baron Cohen
Ken Davitian
Pamela Anderson