Nov. 3, 2006 -- You know who's the toughest audience for a comedy? Comedy writers.
When they sit around a table writing jokes, nobody laughs. The closest you get to laughing is when somebody nods and says, "Funny."
So, I took a comedy writer with me to see "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."
He couldn't stop laughing. Neither could I. Is it offensive? Yes. But if you are easily offended, hey, don't go. It's only a movie.
And it's also one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.
Borat -- who is British satirist Sacha Baron Cohen in real life -- leaves his village (where his mother, at 43, is the oldest woman) to go to America to make a documentary for Kazakhstani TV.
His welcome on U.S. shores is not as warm as the farewell, probably because he insists on kissing strangers on both cheeks.
On the New York City subway, Borat's emergency rations (chickens) almost escape. Most of the best jokes -- like the cow in his hotel room -- are never explained. And his first encounter with a flush toilet is offensive with a capital Y-E-S.
"Borat" is offensive, juvenile, repulsive, politically incorrect and …, but it's still one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. And I've seen a lot of movies.
The studio insists there were no setups. One take only. But I'm not so sure. Still, I truly haven't laughed this hard at the movies since the first time I saw the Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy.
In trailers for the film, Borat says, "Please come see my movie, if not success, I will be execute."
And he may be, if he goes to Kazakhstan. The government has filed protests. It's taken out ads. It's done everything but see the movie.
Not only would no one think this is real -- Kazakhstan comes across like most of the other things the film makes fun of. Offensive? Yes, but I haven't laughed this hard since the Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy. Grade: A.
'The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause'
This is not nearly as good as 1 and 2, which happen to be terrific films and are highly recommended on DVD.
In this one, Tim Allen's wife, Mrs. Claus, is due to have their first child -- on Christmas Eve. That gives the evil Jack Frost (Martin Short) the leverage he needs to slime in as the new Santa Claus.
Frost doesn't deliver presents. He turns the north pole into a nightclub, and that's when the film finally comes to life.
I'm not going to be the movie critic who gives "Santa Claus" a bad review. Not me. It's not up to the first two, but it's fine for kids, and Short is terrific.
This could be the last of the "Santa Claus" films. If they get up to "Santa Clause 5," Allen won't need any makeup. Grade: C+.