Borat director says making £200m movies is ‘ethically’ ‘offensive’ in current state of the world

Charles’ latest film, ‘D***s: The Musical’, was made with a budget of just $8m

Tom Murray
Monday 09 October 2023 17:34 BST
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Larry Charles, the director best known for his collaborations with Sacha Baron Cohen, including Borat and Bruno, has denounced big-budget movies as “offensive”.

Charles made the comments during a recent appearance on the WTF With Marc Maron podcast to promote his new A24 musical adaptation, D***s: The Musical.

“I try to make things like Dangerous Comedy or this movie [D***s: The Musical] – this movie’s a very low-budget movie,” Charles said.

D***s was made for roughly $8m (£6.6m) according to Wired, while the first Borat movie had a budget of $18m (£15m). For comparison, Greta Gerwig’s recent, record-breaking Barbie adaptation was made for approximately $150m (£117m).

“Politically for me, ethically for me, I find it offensive when movies cost $250m [£204m] and the world is in the state that it’s in. So I’m also looking to make a statement in the way these things are made,” he added.

“Kind of an authoritarian big brother sort of thing that we – they’ve figured out over the years, they don’t have to make you, they don’t have to scare you, they have to seduce you.

“So we’re all seduced by great TV shows and great movies and we’re distracted by those things, and we’re then indulging in that same capitalist system and there’s no way it’s going to change as long as we do that. … I struggle with that.”

Larry Charles (left) and Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat
Larry Charles (left) and Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat (Getty Images)

Charles explained that by keeping his productions as cheap as possible, he is able to avoid feeding into the studio system.

“The way I can make a radical work is by saying that I could do it for a little money, and the way [producers and directors] say yes to it is they think, ‘Oh, that radical little work that’s not going to cost any money is going to make money.’ Absolutely. That is the system,” Charles said.

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“I haven’t been able, I’ve been doing stuff on YouTube, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get out of that, to move out of that. It’s very, very difficult to do. Because YouTube is owned by somebody, Instagram is owned by somebody. Everything, you know, it’s very hard to get your word out, your thoughts out.”

Based on Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson’s off-Broadway musical – originally called F***ing Identical Twins on stage – D***s: The Musical follows two business rivals (Sharp and Jackson) who learn that they are actually twins.

The pair then orchestrate a Parent Trap-esque plan to get their parents back together, played by Nathan Lane and Megan Mullally.

Megan Thee Stallion, SNL’s Bowen Yang and Nick Offerman all feature in the cast.

D***s: The Musical has received overall positive reviews from critics; reviewers were united, however, in agreement at how “unhinged” the film is.

D***s: The Musical is out now in the US. It does not currently have a UK release date.

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