But my wife....

There seems to be something a bit odd going on with this whole Borat movie (or to give it its full title, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) business.

Maybe I'm misreading this, but it seems like here, the New York Times implicitly criticizes the movie for its failure to accurately depict Kazakhstan culture etc. Writes Steven Lee Myers: "There is almost nothing, in short, remotely truthful in the satiric depiction of Kazakhstan popularized by Sacha Baron Cohen" and "Mr. Bayen...like all ethnic Kazakhs, bears no resemblance to Borat whatsoever." But part of the point of the original Borat concept was how absurd and unbelivable Borat is (for instance, "Where is cage for woman?") and therefore how gullible and ignorant people are that they can be taken in by it. In other words, the joke's on westerners, not Kazakhs. What possible interest, when you think about it, would Sacha Baron Cohen have in sending up Kazakhs?

But this mistake seems like it's getting made because the Borat of the movie, unlike the Borat of The Ali G Show, isn't Sacha Baron Cohen going around pretending to be Borat to play jokes on the people who believe him. It's a conventional movie dynamic where an actor, in this case named Sacha Baron Cohen, plays an "outrageous" character called Borat, much like Will Ferrell plays an "outrageous" NASCAR driver called Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights -- in which Baron Cohen co-starred (and he was totally the best thing about it). And rather than being aware the whole time that this is a setup, the audience is supposed to do the whole conventional willed-suspension-of-disbelief thing and believe in the character.

That seems to pretty clearly change the whole basis of the humor. It's still, for some reason, hilarious to hear someone say things like "Women can now travel inside of bus." But it's not as funny as hearing someone say that and then seeing a western person take them seriously. My understanding is that the movie does still make use of that same western gullibility dynamic in parts, but you can't do that nearly as successfully in the context of a conventional movie concept where you're supposed to actually believe in the protagonist as a character.