Saturday, November 18, 2006

Happy Feet

This is one of the few movies I've seen that have really left me speechless, but I'm not sure that's such a good thing.

At first there's a whole lot of cuteness and singing and I couldn't help but think: "This is 'Penguins: The Musical'!"

But then about half way through the movie it took a very drastic and strange turn. All the sudden it became this big allergory for American politics and I wasn't even sure of half the messages they were trying to dish out; though I did know they involved religious fanaticism.

If you feel like being cheered up, go see this movie. Nothing makes you smile more than a dancing penguin... but I really did feel overwhelmed with all the political messages they tried to incorperrate in this movie.

It was too much and I wish one of them had been left on the cutting room floor. The only political message I thought fit well was about fishing conservation because that's a big problem for both penguins and humans.

But seriously? Did it need so much more? Why not just have singing and dancing penguins!?! Why is that so wrong!?!


(I wrote this review the weekend the movie came out, but wrote it for my newspaper and didn't bother to post it. This will be printed in the November 21st issue of The Chronicle)

Borat is the tale of one man’s journey across American in order to meet Pamela Anderson. Along with his trustee producer Azamat (played by Ken Davitian) and a camera, Borat embarks on an unforgettable adventure all captured in one 84-minute documentary.

Only, it’s not technically a real documentary, because Borat isn’t real. He’s a character, originated on Da Ali G Show by Sacha Baron Cohen, whose sole purpose seems to be to find and offend anyone he possibly can.

That’s what the entire movie is, one long line of offensive jokes, and it’s worth every minute.

Cohen is really quite ingenious. By saying terrible things in interviews such as suggesting homosexuals should be killed, he gets others to admit they actually agree with this.

The whole point of Borat, and indeed this movie, is not that he’s offensive and terrible, but that there are people – real people – who are that offensive and terrible.

Of course, some people are still taken aback by Borat, being too closed-minded to take a joke. And then there’s the Kazakhstan government which actually threatened to sue Cohen.

Borat’s very similar to Stephen Colbert in one sense, putting on a fa├žade just to bring attention to how ridiculous some of the things he’ll say in character are.

The movie starts off in a small Kazakhstan village, where the movie audience is introduced to life there, which includes fun activities such as bathing in a rather unique thong and The Running of the Jews (Cohen is Jewish).

Then Borat and Azamat head to New York where Borat watches Baywatch and decides he must travel to California in order to marry the woman of his dreams.

From start to finish this movie will have audiences laughing, even when something truly offensive does happen, such as a group of drunken frat boys admitting they thought slavery should be brought back.

But the movie wasn’t just jokes from start to finish, there were quite a few really sweet moments, dare I say heartbreaking?

When Borat is sitting in the back of the ice cream truck and talking to the camera all by himself, trying to keep a smile on his face even though his documentary is crashing down around him, you can’t help but sympathize with the racist, sexist, anti-Semitic shell of a man.

That being said, the naked man fight is perhaps the funniest thing ever seen on film. Cohen and Davitian are brave, brave men.

And the last scene in the movie will completely blow minds. It’s hard to believe what they did, and most people are theorizing that it was staged.

But, audiences will be the judge.

Go and see this movie, you won’t be disappointed, though you may be traumatized for life.