Rated 3.0

As a movie, comic or otherwise, Borat is a fitfully fascinating mess. The gleefully non-PC humor is by definition messy, but the scrappy mélange of episodes that emerges in the long run proves scattershot in both humor and effect. The title character (Sacha Baron Cohen in the guise of a flamboyantly clueless TV personality from Kazakhstan) exudes a cheerfully transgressive sort of comedy. The character’s faux-documentary-style encounters with America and Americans make for some increasingly sharp bursts of social satire, with Borat’s patently ridiculous sexist and racist habits finding glimmers of their American counterparts in visits to a gun shop, a car dealer, an antique store, a rodeo, a Pentecostal church, etc. Does gross-out performance art work effectively as satire or as comedy? I’m not sure about that, but the chief brilliance of Borat is less in performance and execution than in the conceptual daring of its assorted provocations.