My stomach is still a bit sore from seeing 'Borat' last night. If you don't know 'Borat', he is one of the personas from 'Da Ali G Show'. Sacha Baron Cohen, the creator of the character of Borat, teamed up with a crack team of comedy writers and director Larry Charles (Seinfeld writer) to film one of the funniest films I've ever seen. Going into the film I'd heard those words uttered - "funniest film ever" - and thought that maybe it was just studio spin. It was hardly an exaggeration. I don't remember ever laughing so hard and for so long. That's the thing about comedies in general. They make you laugh for an act or two and then peter out trying to finish telling the story. It's a symptom of the three act structure. Most comedies use up their best material setting up the story then find that about an hour (or so) in that they have to resolve the 'plot'. This means that the gags and funny business are replaced by an earnest effort to satisfy the story. Some comedies, like 'Bullets Over Broadway', skirt this problem by setting up a funny plot. This way it isn't actually dependent on gags to be funny - the story is funny in and of itself. 'Borat' solves the problem by creating the thinnest plot and refuses to make the comedy dependant on it. The thin plot creates a reason for Borat to travel the American countryside but never demands that he go from A to B in any formal manner.
The result? Brilliant! 'Borat' is one of those rare comedies that fuses toilet humour with sophisticated satire. The gags are intellectual one minute then bawdy the next. Some have found the film extremely offensive and it's easy to see why. 'Borat' amplifies racial and sexual stereotypes but places them in the realm of farce. Borat seeks to find the parts of our society that validate these attitudes thus shining a light on ourselves. We are not cleansed of hatred and bigotry and 'Borat' for all it's hilarity gives us a mirror to hold our society up against. It's smart. It's dirty. It's bawdy and it's hilarious.
As a footnote, 'Borat' was sold out and the audience laughed so hard that subsequent jokes were missed. Like 'Little Miss Sunshine', 'Borat' is another example of how good films bring people out to the movie theatres in droves. And unlike the hundred million dollar flops, 'Borat' makes its fortune and success on talent.