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Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
Rated R

Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian, and Luenell

Rating:
****
out of
*****

In this semi-mockumentary, Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) is a television journalist from Kazakhstan who is sent to the United States of America to learn what makes it the "greatest country in the world" so that his home country can benefit from his findings.

Borat, along with his producer Azamat Bagatov (Ken Davitian), embarks on a cross-country road trip that begins in New York and ends, somewhat unceremoniously, in California. Along the way, Borat has run-ins with a daytime television interviewer, a rodeo crowd, a gun dealer, a feminist group, and a meeting of mortgage brokers, among others, as he and Azamat traverse across the southern U.S. Each encounter provides the American with a taste of Borat's anti-Semitic, racist, and sexist ideology as he attempts to understand the "U. S. and A." In turn, Borat gets a taste of what the U.S. has to offer in the way of racism, sexism, and homophobia.

For example, as Borat prepares to sing the Kazahki national anthem at a rodeo in Virginia, he greets a man by attempting to kiss him on the cheek -- something he does to virtually every man he meets in the film. The man scolds him for attempting to kiss him, saying something to the effect of that men don't kiss other men in this country and those that do need to be eliminated. This is after he politely advises Borat to shave his moustache lest he be mistaken for a bomb-carrying Muslim.

Borat later rallies the right-wing rodeo crowd with "We support your war of terror. May George Bush drink the blood of every man, woman and child in Iraq." Those in attendance cheer and, in an instant, Borat has made several hundred people look like complete morons. (It's not until Borat suggests that we should bomb Iraq until not even a lizard can live in its deserts that the crowd stops cheering.)

Borat's humor is offensive, sexist, racist, and anti-Semitic. The truly shocking thing about it, though, is that the most jaw-dropping statements don't come from the Borat character. They come from Americans who proudly prove they can be just as backwards and insensitive as Borat under the right circumstances.

Cohen, who is Jewish and considered pursuing a PhD before entering the comedy world, is careful to stay in character the entire time and his crew, who probably had a harder time not laughing, deserve a lot of credit for not blowing the whole charade.

With its sly jabs at America disguised as the adventures of a bumbling foreigner, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is smart, funny, and gleefully offensive.

Trivia: Sacha Baron Cohen did not actually speak any Russian or Slavic language in the movie. In his conversations with Ken Davitian, he actually used a combination of Hebrew with a faked Russian accent and a small amount of Yiddish. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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