Run—I repeat, run—into the lecherous, hilarious, bigoted, brilliant, indulgent embrace of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan when it opens in theaters on Friday.
After midwifing Da Ali G Show into existence in the U.S., HBO stepped up last night to host a screening, dinner and cocktails for Ali’s alter ego, the Kazakhstan-born and bred journalist Borat. The event, which was held at the TimeWarnerCenter and hosted by Richard Plepler, drew an impressive crowd including Jerry Seinfeld and his wife Jessica, Candace Bergen, Alec Baldwin, Lorne Michaels, Bob Costas, Edie Falco, Jill Abramson, MSNBC’s Dan Abrams, Men’s Vogue’s Jay Fielden, Linda Stasi, David Zinczenko, Malcolm Gladwell, Peter Greenfield and Harry Smith.
After the screening, our dinner discussion revolved around the legal protocols involved in making this sort of film—and pretty much everything else that Sasha Baron Cohen does to make benefit. His office is historically tight-lipped about their methods, but what I really need to know is whether or not Pamela Anderson was aware of the fact she was going to get a traditional Kazakhstani wedding sack pulled over her head. If the answer is yes, we have not given Lady Rock her due as an actress, and Baywatch—and everything after—was far beneath her. And if not, how does this work, exactly?
However, despite my curiosity about legal riders, release forms, and the physical consequences of upsetting an entire rodeo full of cowboys by mocking our national anthem or naked wrestling with a morbidly obese man during a mortgage broker’s conference in Texas, it doesn’t really matter how it happened. I just give thanks, in a season otherwise full of movies bent on making us more charming at cocktail parties, that it did.
By Caroline Palmer