Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
In anyone else’s hands, Kazakh journalist Borat Sagidiyev would’ve been a 150-pound goofball.
In Sacha Baron Cohen’s, he was a 500-pound guerrilla running and gunning through a perfect 82-minute prank of political incorrectness that always felt real even amid carefully chosen, cleverly edited targets.
Seeking meaning from a 2006 movie with a featured credit for a fecal provider seemed pointless. But as Borat ventured through America to report back on what he found, he yielded results that were scatological (a nude wrestling sequence impossible to wipe from your brain), sociological and merciless against xenophobia, homophobia and every other phobia.
Bigotry will never go away, so when its temporary takedown is so savagely witty and wise, even those with the best of intentions should laugh at man’s inhumanity to man.
Borat remains the best creature to break free from Cohen’s lab — a charming filter whose naivete allows him to prey upon arrogance and ignorance. No slapstick moment from last decade felt more sublime than Cohen’s purposefully destructive flailing in a Confederate memorabilia shop.
It’s firmly commanded comedy when malapropisms like “war of terror” draw belly laughs. But there’s more than a broken-English punchline when Borat says he’s going to the “U.S. and A.” There is a split between how we want to be seen as the United States at its best, and what is, at times, truly America at its worst. Now that is sick, but it’s also made sickly funny in one of the greatest comedies ever made.