The Cathartic Potential of Documentary Films: Featuring Borat
The one movie I've seen in theaters which had the largest mass audience reveling was "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" (2006).
"Borat" is interesting because it's half-documentary and half-fiction.
And it really, really works.
The documentary side of the movie has Sacha Baron Cohen interacting with (seemingly) unsuspecting people.
He creates a situation of high tension, forcing people nearby to genuinely respond.
The photography, crisp & Hollywood, suddenly switches to a lower resolution.
Something's about to happen.
The huge, cathartic laughter comes from these documentary moments.
Catharsis is from Borat breaking taboos in the real world in a vivid manner.
...Much like performance art.
It's about being put into these extremely uncomfortable situations (for example, being thrown face-first into the pavement by security, or running around naked waving a rubber dildo while chasing another naked man in public...) which creates a high cinematic experience - and possibly the documentary form's greatest method of achieving mass social ablution.