Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox
Borat continues to have the last laugh.
A New York judge has thrown out several lawsuits brought by some of the unsuspecting citizens who interacted with Sacha Baron Cohen's titular buffoon in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
The Baltimore-based driver's education teacher who gets behind the wheel with Borat and two etiquette coaches (including the one who had to explain that human feces belong in the toilet, not at the dinner table) each sued Cohen and 20th Century Fox for allegedly engaging in fraudulent tactics to get them to appear on film.
But U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska noted in her Sept. 3 ruling that all three plaintiffs consented to participating in a "documentary-style movie" by accepting money for their efforts and signing releases that freed the filmmakers from liability.
These complaints were part of the wave of litigation that washed over Fox in the months after Borat made benefit glorious stardom of Cohen, whose low-budget comedy grossed more than $260 million worldwide. He's currently filming Bruno, based on another of the characters in his mental lockbox, a flamboyant Austrian fashion reporter.
But although a number of ticked-off civilians were angling for a cut of that box office loot, maintaining that they were all suckered into the unflattering portrayals they offered up on camera, the courts have been residing largely in the defendants' camp so far.
Presky also rejected in April a defamation suit brought by the businessman whom Borat tries to hug on the streets of New York, determining that the scene was less reputation-killer and more ironic and newsworthy commentary on social mores.
And in February 2007, a Los Angeles judge granted 20th Century Fox's motion to dismiss a fraud lawsuit brought by two of the boorish-acting fraternity brothers who Borat hitched a ride with in the 2006 film—they claimed that they were plied with booze before signing their release forms—and refused to order the studio to excise their scene from future screenings or DVD editions.