|KEX'S AMAZING WORLD|
|Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only an error to be exposed. -- H.L. Menken|
The Emperor's New Groove
Last Week: The Emperor's New Groove:
John Goodman is probably the only reasonably well known actor in the business right now who can actually take a step toward pulling his career out of the toilet by doing a voice-over in a throw away animated feature. The bonuses just keep on coming: In The Emperor's New Groove, Goodman gets to portray a character who is married to a woman who definitely doesn't look anything like Roseanne. Perhaps the man has a shot at re-inventing himself afterall.
The Emperor's New Groove is the latest animated Disney release, however it hasn't received the kind of fanfare and hype that usually accompany their new cartoons. I haven't seen a single fast food joint hawking cheap toys based on the feature yet, nor has every product from baby diapers to asprin bottles attempted to cash in on sleezy advertising promos. It almost seems as if Disney suddenly realized a couple of months ago that they didn't really have anything in this year's holiday box-office derby, so they just tossed this one together.
At times the animation looks like it too. Compared to most Disney features, this one has a distinctly Saturday morning look to it. The script has about the same depth as well. But there is a curious aspect to this film: It works. True, this film won't achieve the kind of classic status of Disney features like The Lion King or Beauty And The Beast. I'm guessing that not all that many people are going to see it either. The showing I attended had a large audience almost exclusively disguised as empty seats. There were all of 6 other people in attendance, any one of which could have danced naked in front of the screen without raising much of a sensation.
David Spade supplied the voice for the emperor Kuzco, a self centered tyrant who plans on disrupting the lives of a group of peaceful villagers by building a summer home atop their mountain. Its the kind of thing we can probably expect from our own newly elected first family for the next four years. However, he makes the mistake of firing his advisor, Yzma (Ertha Kitt, whom I had no idea she was still alive). The disgruntled sorceress plots to kill him by slipping him a poisoned potion.
However there has never been a Disney movie made where its possible to keep potions straight, and somehow the emperor is turned into a llama instead of dying. John Goodman's character Pacha accidentally takes him home, and Kuzco attempts to convince Pacha to help him return to his palace and human form. Pacha is hesistant, knowing Kuzco's plan to disrupt the lives of his family and neighbors, but his faith in the internal goodness of everyone overcomes his reservations.
The movie mostly revolves around the adventures of the two characters as they attempt to save Kuzco and return him to power. Since this is a Disney movie, they naturally succeed. There is a lot of funny material here, but the Disney people got in their own way, and passed on a lot of golden opportunities. Yeah, I know this is a kid's film, but at one point llama/Kuzco wanders into a herd of wild llamas. Right there, we can imagine the comic possibilites in a less Republican world. Hey, maybe it could have been a bunch of wild female spinster llamas who hadn't seen a male for awhile.
I was pretty intrigued by one aspect of this film: Kuzco was supposedly 18, but for all we were able to ascertain, the gods sent him from heaven to rule the kingdom via storks. Apparently he had neither siblings or parents, providing the animators with the opportunity to toss in the evil Yzma. She is definitely a classic villaness straight out of Disney hell, sort of a cross between the evil queen of Snow White fame and Cruella DeVil.
So, why did I see this movie this week, rather than any of the other releases? Well, lets pause for a moment to review the competitors for my entertainment dollar. Probably the most significant new release this week was the new Mel Gibson flick, What Women Want. I'll venture that one of the things a lot of women are going to want is to see this movie, but most of the critical buzz is pretty bad. That is, unless you count Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, whom as we have noted on several occasions before, wouldn't know a quality movie if it bit him in the ass.
There is also the new Gen-Y comedy, Dude, Where's My Car. I have to think that the very first problem with this film is that its pretty unlikely a good movie will every be made that has the work "dude" in the title. Hey, just how good can a movie really be when it stars a supporting actor jerked from the realms of a second-rate comedy on Fox?
Maybe I could have backtracked a bit and dropped in on one of last week's major releases, Proof of Life. Jack Matthews of the New York Daily News said, and I quote, "Russell Crowe is the new James Bond." Damn Jack, I probably wouldn't have liked the film either, but that is just below the belt. Victoria Snee of Dallas tv station KDAF noted that "Ryan and Crowe sizzle on the screen." Okay, (1.) I don't want to see them do that and (2.) How crappy must this movie be if the publicists had to hunt down reviews of an entertainment reporter at a Dallas tv station in order to find somebody who said something nice about it?
I want to note one other thing here. I didn't see The Emperor's New Groove at my usual haunt, the local Century Theater, and I am sure that they are breathing a sigh of relief that I'm not going to say anything nasty about them this week. Instead, I saw it at a U.A. theater, and I noted something curious there: They actually had a Coca Cola vending machine in the lobby. They jacked up the price to 2 bucks a bottle, but hey, that still beats sticking the patrons for about 3 and a quarter for a cup of lightly flavored ice cubes in an oversized container.
Besides, it provides the opportunity for me to be less nervous about sneaking in the 20 oz. bottles of soft drinks that I can buy for a dollar at the Walgreens across the street. I hope Century gets on the stick and puts in a coke machine too.
Last Week: Ali:
What the hell was this? Ali Part 1? I sat through 2 and a half freaking hours of this, and finally got to the part of Ali's life that I thought would be pretty interesting. And what happened? The film stopped.
Please note my careful use of words there. This movie did not end; it stopped. And I guess that wasn't the worst thing that could have happened by that point. I'm thinking that a low grade imbecile could have warned the people that made this movie that 150 minutes was not close to adequate to sum up the life of Ali. So now we know a little about the people who made the movie.
Mohammed Ali was one of the most intriguing people of the 20th century. There is no way his life fits into this kind of shoebox. He not only transcended his sport, he transcended sports in general. So how the hell did the people who made this movie ever really believe they were going to pull this off?
There is one thing about this project I'm certain of. Somewhere, probably on the cutting room floor, is a damned interesting movie we'll never get to see: Or at least not until the twelve hour director's cut is released on DVD 6 months from now. I know that because I saw a lot of trailers and promo cuts attributed to this film that were nowhere to be seen within the final product. Once again, I ended up watching a pretty different movie than I expected.
The promos for this filmed proclaimed that we were going to see aspects of the Ali story that we never knew. Actually, this movie makes his life, or the limited portion of it we actually saw, seem about as interesting as listening to a Slim Whitman album. I noted a few things I was supposed to have learned about Ali's life, and compared them with what I know, or strongly suspect to be reality: To wit:
**Movie reality: Apparently Mohammed Ali only made love to his first wife when she had at least some of her clothes on.
**Our reality: I think that had something to do with the filmmakers thinking they needed to make sure we are all aware that Ali was not a virgin particularly late in life, and they didn't want to get slapped with an "R" rating for demonstrating it. No worries there folks. I think we are all pretty aware that Ali could and did get laid pretty much whenever he wanted to, and we didn't need to see it.
**Movie reality: In the first Clay-Liston fight, Liston probably used a foriegn substance on his gloves that made it hard for the young Clay to see. But he overcame the pain and vision impairment, and won the fight.
**Our reality: That may have been true, but Clay wanted to quit the fight. Only a severe tongue lashing by his trainer, Angelo Dundee, spurred him to continue and eventually win. The movie didn't portray that.
**Movie reality: In Ali-Liston fight 2, Ali whaled on Liston severely for a couple of minutes, then knocked him out.
**Our reality: Ali barely touched Liston, and every surviving video from every angle available shows that the punch that supposedly took Liston down missed him by a good foot. Liston was either heartless and gutless, or took a dive for the cash.
**Movie reality: Somehow, just before Liston threw in the towel in the first fight, his boxing booties somehow changed from white to black.
Our reality: I'm guessing ridiculously careless continuity error.
**Movie reality: If you watch this film with little knowledge of history, you might come away with the impression that in the first Ali-Frazier fight, Frazier took out Ali in the first round.
**Our reality: The fight went the full 15, with Frazier knocking Ali down late. The fight severely depleted both men, and Frazier spent several days after in the hospital.
Movie reality: Apparently only a few weeks passed between Frazier's victory over Ali, and Frazier's subsequent upset loss to Foreman. Very little time passed after that before Ali defeated Foreman after being mercilessly pounded for 7 rounds.
Our reality: Several years seperated the events. And Ali announced even before the fight his "rope-a-dope" strategy to get Foreman to punch himself out. It worked.
Movie reality: Ali's second wife whom he met sometime around 1968, interviewed him for her school paper when she was only 11, shortly after he first won the title.
Our reality: That would have made her about 15 when they got romantically involved. I doubt that chronology.
Movie reality: Apparently Ali's whole life was lived to the score of soul music.
Our reality: I doubt it.
Movie reality: Behind the scenes, Ali and Howard Cosell were bossum buddies.
Our reality: There was probably a touch of sincerity to their friendship, but the guess here is that it was mostly based on mutual self promotional interests.
Movie reality: Idi Amin Dada was not the monster or revolting tub of lard we saw in all the pictures and news stories.
Our reality: He was a monster. And he always looked to me like he didn't rule Uganda, he ate it.
This movie wasn't terrible, it just didn't lend itself credibly to such a short treatment. Will Smith was spectacular as Ali, and it will undoubtedly get a Best Picture Oscar nomination. I just found it understated and annoying.
Last Week: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:
This is the second installment of the controversial Harry Potter series. The books are frequently the target of radical religious groups who want them banned because they promote sorcery, withcraft and all sorts of evil in the eyes of some of the pious. Even the movies are the target of their wrath. After seeing Harry Potter II, I'm beginning to see their point.
No, actually I have no problem with the general theme of the films. Its just that any project which requires me to sit through nearly three hours of child actors has to be the incarnation of evil. Worse still, the only adults who make an appearance reads like a roster of the British born Hollywood has beens, including a dead guy.
The good news is that we will only have to suffer through one more of this travesty. Its already in the can and primed for release next Christmas. The series of books is still being written, but there are no current plans to film any of the editions past the third in the series. If future plans develop, they'll either have to do some serious recasting, or take severe liberties by wedging in the current group.
Obviously, Richard Harris won't be in much of a condition to start reshooting, and the boy who currently plays Harry will be shaving before they get any more installments off the ground. The vote here is that we petition Director Chris Columbus to drive a stake through the heart of this mess before anyone gets any ideas along that line.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is ostensibly a children's film, but I would strongly caution any parents out there who are considering taking the family, assuming that you haven't already done so. This film is absolutely unsuitable for pre-teens. The 140 minute running time is going to be extremely excessive for the younger tots, and the film has scenes that are surprisingly violent and intense...in fact, the word frightening would not be inappropriate.
Near the end, Harry battles a giant snake, realistic enough looking to provide many children with some nasty nightmares for a week or two. Frankly, I'm anticipating one or two myself. I suppose that is a tribute to the special effects crew that worked on this film, but hold the horses here folks. This is supposed to be a kid's film. Maybe somebody should have given some serious thought to making it audience appropriate.
To be honest, the running time was even a little excessive for the older crowd. I heard more than a few snores from various parts of the theater, including the seat next to mine. And to be perfectly honest, I missed about 10 minutes somewhere in the middle of the film where I took a brief break to study the back of my eyelids. While some of the action is certainly intense, its by no means non-stop. Parts of the film are downright boring.
I wasn't all that comfortable with scenes of the pre-pubescent heros driving in a flying car either. All we need are groups of Harry inspired 3rd graders starting a spree of car-jacking in hopes of fleeing to the school of wizardry. And that giant spider? I was wondering why it didn't occur to Harry to summon up a giant shoe spell.
That brings me to another point about these movies that really vexes me. I haven't read the books, and they might explain. But if Harry is reputedly such a magnificent boy wizard, why do all the other students at the school seem so much more capable? By comparison to most of the others, Harry comes off as the guy who comes in on the short bus. I have no doubt that one of the Kexkateers is already heading off to send me some long-winded explanation.
So far I'm not wild about the Harry movies, but I'm still kind of impressed with the success the books are having in getting kids to read. I think reading is one of the most important habits children can develop these days, particularly in a country where the majority of citizens never read a book after leaving high school. That is sad and dangerous. Maybe if we could get more kids reading, we wouldn't find ourselves in a future where we are goose-stepping along behind a nation leader we didn't elect, who is little more than an overprivilaged, low-grade moron. We might have the courage, as citizens, to seriously question why our government is whipping us up for a war with Iraq because of their alleged terrorist ties, but continuing to fanatically support Saudi Arabia, which has at least equal complicity in sponsorship and funding of terror. Who knows, we might even start to seriously question why tens of billions of dollars have been spent chasing after one guy who once killed 2500 Americans, but we pour wealth and luxury on the manufacturers of tobacco products who share responsibility in the deaths of a million Americans every year.
Wait, on second thought, we don't want people thinking about things like that. Ban Harry Potter!
Last Week: Stuck On You:
The only thing worse than a one joke movie is a one joke movie that isn't funny. Wait, something worse still just occured to me. The only thing worse than a one joke movie that isn't funny is a one joke Farley brothers movie that isn't funny. The Farley's have made a career of squeezing what some would classify as hilarity out of brutal tastlessness. This time, they even misfired at the task of being tasteless.
The end credits for Stuck On You began with a memorial dedication to 3 different people. I was surprised that the production body count for this festival of cinematic phlem wasn't even higher. During the nearly 2 hour running time, I checked my own pulse about 12 times, and the cleanup crew probably rated hazard pay cleaning up the corpses moribound. Too much ennui can be very dangerous. Even the throng of generation Y in attendance failed to find anything amusing, and found this offering a tedious mess.
Things got off to a pretty bad start during the screening of this film that we attended. The sound failed to come on during the first 3 minutes, but the problems was apparently resolved. Unfortunately, that made things worse. This movie actually would have been more fun if the entire presentation would have been silent. Not that it would have been much fun even under those circumstances.
Bob (Matt Damien) and Walt Tanor (Greg Kinnear) are conjoined twins. Believe it or not, that is the sole comic setup for a 120 minute movie. Its obviously a weak premise out of the starting gate, but if you want to pull off a comedy starting from a presentation this shallow, you better have a couple of exceptional comics to carry the load. The Farley's apparently didn't realize how challenged their opening position was, and lit the fuse to this megaton bomb by casting two stars in the leading role with precious little comedic experience, and no timing whatsoever. BARROOOM!
If the total lack of material even capable of producing a smile doesn't alarm the viewers during the first 10 minutes, tossing Moon River into the sound track has to set off every alarm bell attendant in the brain of viewers with a measurable I.Q. The proper setting for a classy outdoor luncheon isn't 10 feet away from a train wreck. The Farley's couldn't even figure that out.
Of course, by this time, the audience has probably already noted that Bob and Walt look absolutely nothing alike. I guess this was supposed to be history's first case of conjoined twins by different fathers. Maybe that was part of the joke, but sometimes its difficult for comedians to carry off good material. In this case, two straight men were clearly two too many.
Bob and Walt live in Martha's Vineyard, where they run a burger joint. Bob is perfectly happy there, but Walt dreams of being an actor. The nature of their junction makes seperation a risky proposition, so it appears that the two must live side by side for life. Walt is seemingly too dense to figure out that the situation is not favorable to his career dreams. Nonetheless, he convinces Bob to pack up and head to Hollywood with him.
Owing to a chance meeting with Cher who plays herself, Walt gets his big break. Cher has just been cast in a new T.V. series, but she considers it below her career potential. This leads her to try to kill the series in order to get out of her contract. Thus she attempts to sabotage the new series by insisting that Walt appear as her co-star. Unlike in the present reality of Hollywood, Cher is a hot property in showbiz.
The guess here is that Cher needed something to do to prior to setting off on Cher Farewell Tour 2, so she was talked into signing on to this movie. This time, even her most ardent fans might be a little more anxious to bid her farewell. Just one quick bit of advice, Cher dear. Those fans outside the arenas aren't going to be there to hear you sing this time. They are going to be wanting their admission money for this movie back. Keep an especially safe distance from the ones with ropes.
I was more sympathetic toward Kinnear and Damien, who at least have promising and lengthy careers ahead of them to endanger, or ruin outright. Neither of them looked especially comfortable in their roles, and its hard to blame them. Imagine that you are an accomplished dramatic actor stumbling your way through a laughless comedy. You are cast next to another guy who couldn't win a comedy festival in which the only other competitor is Ed Sullivan. You've got to know that your agent has screwed you sideways. And when the movie uses a forgotten Gilbert O'Sullivan song to stir emotional appeal in the soundtrack, you already know that the project is tanking faster than an a business run by George W. Bush.
I watched this entire movie with the same sense of stunned shock and horror that Fergus must have felt when he undressed Dil in The Crying Game and was smacked with the appalling surprise of a male package. I hope you have already seen The Crying Game. If you haven't I guess you don't have to now. While we are at it, Stuck On You is another movie you don't have to see.
Last Week: The Aviator:
Six hours into this movie, while I was contemplating how many times I would have to bash my head against the floor to achieve unconsciousness, it suddenly occured to me that nobody in the world really wants to see a movie about Howard Hughes.
I guess the only mystery is why it took me so long to come to that conclusion. Afterall, the decible level from the snoring of the other 300 people in the theater, which started about two hours earlier, could have drown out the engine sound from the loudest plane that ever rolled out of the hangers at Hughes Aircraft.
Then, all of the sudden, the movie stopped, and being the only person in the theater still conscious, it was naturally my duty to awaken everyone else and tell them it was time to go home.
It was also my pleasure at that time to wish them a happy 2005, since we were only moments away from the beginning of the New Year. The bad news was, that I think it was only 2003 when we entered the theater.
A new law will have gone into effect in Colorado by the time most of you read this. If you are caught driving without insurance in this state, first offense will be a $500 fine and suspension of your license until you can prove that you have acquired insurance. Second offense will be a $1000 fine, and you'll have to watch this movie.
Believe you me, I'm going to make sure we stay caught up. If I had to sit through this film again, I'd be too old to drive by the time it ended. One couple I saw brought a baby into the movie. He walked out at the end. I should have half way through.
Leo DiCaprio is now responsible for two of the most appallingly long and tedious movies in motion picture history; Titanic and The Aviator. You kind of wonder why he has it in for us. I don't know if its a crime to commit mass murder by boring lots of people to death, but if it is, DiCaprio deserves to get the chair.
Here is what I learned from watching this movie:
1. Howard Hughes made some movies that were considered overly expensive and ahead of their time.
2. He was an aviation innovator, although some of his planes were rather spectacular failures.
3. He was a nut.
Oh. Wait. I knew all of that going in. So, how long did it take you to read the 3 sentences above? Okay, start over and time yourself. I'll wait.............................................
Ten seconds. Not bad. So what did it take Martin Scorcese almost 3 freaking hours to tell us the same thing? A few reasons come to mind. The man has no clue about pacing, the man has no clue about what the audience is interested in finding out in a movie like this, the man has no clue....okay, we'll just leave it at that.
A lot of critics are really raving about this movie, proving again what total sacks most of them are. In the first place, anyone who reviews movies for a living would have to do a least a couple of articles per week, which more or less rules out any of them actually seeing this film. If you spent that much time away from your job, you'd get fired.
This could have been a TV mini series, except that nobody would have watched after the first two hours. That doesn't make it any different I guess, because everyone was asleep after the first two hours anyway. The DVD version of this film is going to weigh 80 pounds. Believe me, its not worth renting a van to haul home.
There is a fun game you can play to keep your brain from going entirely comatose while watching Annapolis. Try to count the number of films that are being blatantly ripped off as the plot spirals down toward an entirely predictable climax faster than the first F-bomb is dropped in a Kevin Smith production.
First of all, who thought it was a good idea to create a film to showcase the talents of James Franco? Did the people at the casting department ever actually watch another film James Franco has appeared in? His talents won't carry a movie. Hell, his talents cou;dn't carry a tub of popcorn into a movie.
Jake Huard (James Franco) lives in Annapolis, and works at the shipyards where his father is some sort of supervisor. Dear old dad is happy that his son is following in his footsteps and pursuing a career in shipbuilding, but young Jake has other ambitions.
It seems that Jake's dearly departed mother always dreamed that her son would attend the United States Naval Academy. She even evidently dressed young Jake up in a sailor suit as a child. Thank heaven she didn't don him in a pink cowboy hat, or we might have had to sit through Brokeback Mountain.
Jake doesn't really have the academic or leadership qualities necessary to get admitted to the academy, but he does possess one talent of note. He is a boxer with a penchant for taking miserable beatings in the ring before landing a lucky punch and knocking out his opponent. Just why this particular talent attracts the attention of anyone at the Naval Academy is a mystery, but none the less, someone in admissions there decides to take a chance on the punchdrunk Jake.
Once he arrives at the academy, we are treated to every character stereotype ever planted into bootcamp movie. There is Loo, the uptight, overachieving smart and overly moral oriental guy. How long, you ask yourself, will it take him to get somebody booted out? There is the Hispanic screwup who tries to beat the system. How long, you ask yourself, will it take him to get booted out? Finally, there is the overweight black guy, who is trying hard, but just can't seem to make the grade. Gee, do you think he is going out the window near the end of the movie?
Oh, and don't forget the stick-up-the-ass drill instructor type. His name is Cole (Tyrese Gibson), and he becomes the driving nemesis for our boy Jake. The interaction between Jake and Cole is so directly lifted from An Officer And A Gentleman that I figured it was just a matter of time before Cole slipped and referred to Jake as Mayo-naisse.
Oh, and Jake has to have a love interest too, just to give the women in the audience a reason to pay attention to this film for more than 5 minutes. In this case Jake falls for Ali (Jordana Brewster), who Jake meets in a bar the night before he goes to the academy. Jake propositions her mistakenly believing she is a prostitute. In reality, she is an upperclassman at the academy.
In real life, a mistake like that would probably have led to Jake living in uncontrolled hell his first week at the academy, until he ran screaming like a little girl from the campus grounds. But since this is a movie, the two fall in love. Unfortunately, their onscrren chemistry was about as appealing as a Drano enema.
All of this leads up to a big Academy boxing tournament, in which Jake ultimately faces Cole for the championship. By comparison, Jake looks more suited to shagging Cole's spit bucket than fighting him, but a dazzling bout ensues. Or I guess it did. The choreography of the fight was so confused and poorly filmed that half the time, I could have sworn that the two fighters were getting the crap kicked out of them by the referee.
Annapolis isn't a terrible movie, but you've seen it before...Rocky, An Officer And A Gengleman, School Ties and a dozen others. In fact, the backdrop of Annapolis and life at the Naval Academy had so little to do with this film, the plot could have just as easily been transported to the Eton School for Boys.
Last Week: A DVD Rental Review: Borat:
Would someone please explain this one to me? This movie was one of the top box-office comedies of 2006. It got a 91% approval at rottentomatoes.com, and earned a Best Picture nomination in the musica/comedy category for the Golden Globe Awards. I guess that just goes to prove how clueless the Hollywood foriegn press really is.
Now its time for me to offer a dissenting opinion. This is one of the lamest pieces of crap I have ever sat through. No, I'm not going to offer some of the same criticisms of this film that have come in from several quarters. A lot of people missed the point of this movie by a mile. I'm not among those. I know exactly what Cohen was trying to say. My point is that if you pick at a scab, it never heals.
Some people probably laughed at this film because it evidently gave Americans a chance to laugh at a greezy little foriegner. A lot of people in this country sadly mistake mirrors for windows these days, so we just have to let that go by. Then there were those that blasted Cohen for what were perceived as anti-Semitic jokes. Considering that Cohen is himself Jewish, I guess that one would have to assume a degree of self-loathing. There was nothing about this film that suggested to me that Cohen hates himself. Quite the contrary. No one could unleash a piece of garbage of this caliber with the self-confidence that Cohen displayed.
No, the really sad thing here is that this film found an audience among the vast group of people who actually found a degree of humor in watching really gross looking naked men running around through a high class hotel. Then there were other scatological bits of humor that one would hope most people left far behind around junior high. Evidently not.
Through the entire run of this film, I found exactly one opportunity to chuckle. That came when a bear scared some kids away from an ice cream truck. But shoot, Adam Sandler could have come up with that. Based Upon the outstanding reaction this film got from audiences coast to coast, I kept waiting for something inspired. More inspiration could be offered in any of the Jackass movies.
Let's face it folks, there came a time when MTV and VH1 left their zones of comfort, and the world paid the price with Beavis and Butthead, The Real World and Flavor of Love. I guess one might surmise that Borat is little more than the bastard stepchild.If you want to criticize an entire society, it might be worth considering to find a method that is at least elevated above that society's saddest cultural products.
The premise of this film is that a TV reporter from Khazakastan named Borat (Cohen) comes to America to try to reveal American culture to the folks back home. I suppose it helps that Americans don't know squat about Khazakastan, and if Khazis spend much time watching Fox Noise Network, they probably don't know much about us either. Or maybe too much, come to think of it.
Cohen unleashes his Borat character upon real people, the results of which are evidently supposed to be humorous. I just found it all a bit sad. Yeah, there are a lot of ignorant folk out there who have been sold a bill of good by unscrupulous politicans and corporations. If Cohen's point was trying to bring them face to face with their own shortcomings, this just isn't going to work. You don't raise the boats by shooting torpedoes into their bows.
Borat travels across America, showing us up as a bunch of clueless, bigoted rubes. Somehow, he manages to avoid getting arrested or severely beaten several times. Too bad. It might have made the movie at least marginally palatable. He is ultimately on a quest to meet Pamela Anderson, whom he falls for after watching an episode of Baywatch.
Eventually, Borat makes it to L.A., and realizes his dream. But his ill-fated encounter with Anderson does lead to beating and arrest. Alas, that ending is much less satisfying than watching Leo DiCaprio die painfully at the end of Titanic, and even though it only takes it half as long to get there, it's more than twice as tedious.
Cohen probably did deserve to get arrested for this effort. But the legitimate charges would have been for false imprisonment of his unwitting audiences, and stealing whatever money they paid for admission. Note to all future filmmakers who might want to raise the level of social discourse: Don't attack the lowest common denominater by trying to tunnel under them. This movie actually achieved a K.A.W. first: It was worse than I expected it to be, which is why I avoided it in theaters in the first place.
Copyright 1999-2005, 2006