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Film: Borat

"Jagshemash! My name Borat! I like you. I like sex. Is nice!"
— first lines of the movie, also the least offensive thing you'll hear him say

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan centers around Borat Sagdiyev, a humble reporter from Kazakhstan (Sacha Baron Cohen, in one of his guerrilla commentary-style characters) and a misogynistic, racist, anti-Semitic stranger to American culture, who travels around the United States with his manager Azamat (Ken Davitian) to learn about its culture.

His odyssey includes stops in such diverse places as New York City, Washington, DC, a live Morning Show, a Virginia rodeo (where Borat attempts to sing the national anthem with his own lyrics), a confederate antique shop, a Jewish couple's bed and breakfast, a born-again Christian revival tent service, and Hollywood. All this so that Borat can travel cross country to wed Pamela Anderson, though he eventually finds something more in Lunell, a New Orleans prostitute.

It is worth noting that a) the director and both producers - including Baron Cohen - are Jewish, and b) most of the other people featured in the film were completely unaware of their ultimate role in the resulting movie. (In fact, the movie contains only 4 actors: Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian, Luenell and Pamela Anderson herself). Controversy followed the film for many of the above-mentioned reasons, including lawsuits brought by many of the subjects of Borat's attention. It has been banned in all Arab countries save Lebanon, and Russia has discouraged cinemas there from showing it.

The government of Kazakhstan was none-too-pleased with it either, due to all the "No, we're not really racist homophobic Ruritanians" phone calls their foreign relations department had to deal with. Despite this, the film was very popular with the people of Kazakhstan (helped by the First Daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva of Kazakhstan, who basically told their government to lighten up and enjoy the joke). Reportedly, it's also done wonders for their tourism sectornote .

Despite the large amount of lawsuits and controversies, Borat, originally expected to flop, was a huge critical, financial, and cultural success, and has spawned a 2009 Spiritual Successor Brüno, starring another of Sacha Baron Cohen's characters.

This film provides examples of:

  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Borat catches Azamat masturbating over Borat's Pamela Anderson magazine. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Accentuate the Negative: This is actually what most critics did with the movie rather than what the film did to its victims. While Borat gets a lot of people to reveal their hidden bigotry, at least an equal amount of the people featured are amazingly accomodating and polite to someone who is apparently a clueless backwater weirdo.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Borat started as a cultural commentary character in a series of sketches on Da Ali G Show.
  • Alter Ego Acting
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Some people did not even know Kazakhstan was a real country.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: When a hotel concierge sadly informs Borat of the death of Borat's wife back home, Borat joyfully hugs the baffled messenger and dances around the room.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Borat's and Azamat's "Kazakhstani" speech is mostly Hebrew and Armenian, respectively. The words in the credits are Polish. The "Kazakh village" is Romanian.
  • The Backwards R:
    • The Cyrillic character Д used in the movie's title is really pronounced similar to "d", not an "a". In fact, reading the title of the film poster in Cyrillic would be "Voyadt", with the R being the wrong way round.
    • The DVD release also had a literal backwards R. (The goal was to make the DVD look like a cheap bootleg.)
  • Badass Mustache: Phear Borat's caterpillar! It's real, too. He says it takes him 6 weeks to grow it each time.
  • Bad Humor Truck: Borat and Azamat's choice of cross-country conveyance, complete with trained guard animal a black bear named Oksana.
  • Barely-There Swimwear: We see an example at the end, worn by Borat. In one of the deleted scenes, Azamat wears one in a Baywatch parody.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Borat and Azamat secure a black bear as a guard animal to protect their truck. This works out as well as could be expected.
  • Berserk Button: Borat catches Azamat masturbating over Borat's Pamela Anderson magazine, and all hell breaks loose for about five abominable - and very uncomfortably naked - minutes.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Borat's speech is peppered with real Eastern European and Central Asian languages as well as Hebrew (the last likely being due to the fact that Sacha Baron Cohen is Jewish), plus helpings of actual gobbledygook. On the other hand, Azamat is speaking authentic Armenian (specifically, according to That Other Wiki, the Eastern dialect) — his actor, Ken Davitian, is of Armenian descent.
  • Bland-Name Product: The DVD's top part is printed to look like it was burned onto a Demorex brand recordable disc. It even has a parody of the Memorex slogan — "Is life? No. Demorex."
  • Boomerang Bigot: Played with - Borat is an extreme anti-Semite, even though Sacha Baron Cohen is Jewish in real life.
  • Brick Joke: Borat's joke trainer tries to teach him the proper use of the word "NOT!" in a joke and he doesn't seem to get it. Near the end of the movie this returns in a particularly inappropriate, but hilarious, time.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Borat's reception on the streets of New York is less than friendly, with people shouting obscenities in his face just for introducing himself. trying to shake hands and kiss them: "Touch me and I will punch you in your fucking balls!"
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Borat studies American humor. It takes him the entire movie to get the timing right on "Not!" jokes.
  • Categorism as a Phobia: Borat went into an over-the-top panic attack when the B&B he was staying at turned out to be operated by a Jewish couple.
  • Combat Breakdown
  • Contrived Coincidence: Borat is infatuated with Pamela Anderson and wants to marry her, but he doesn't want to be unfaithful to his wife back in Kazakhstan, because she'll snap his cock off. About a third of the way through the movie, he gets a letter from back home: His wife is dead, freeing him to pursue Pam. High five!
  • Crazy Cultural Comparison: Lots and lots.
  • Credits Gag: Costume designer Jason Alper is also credited as providing "Mr Baron Cohen's feces".
  • Cringe Comedy
  • The Danza: Luenell Campbell as the prostitute "Luenell".
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Played for laughs. In one scene when Borat becomes desires to seek out a woman for sex, he is flabbergasted to learn that in the US, women have the right to say no to sexual advances.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Parodied in which Borat has Azamat walk out of him, he falls into despair over thinking he'll never be a man (despite the reassurances of an RV-full of chauvinists). His tears of despair are laughable.
  • Eagleland: We see a lot of Flavor 2.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: During the naked brawl, and interrupted by a number of baffled witnesses.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Since most of the characters aren't actors and didn't know during filming that Borat wasn't real.
  • Engineered Public Confession: The college students sued the makers of Borat over this. And lost.
  • Fan Disservice: The naked fight
    • Also the bonus scene of Borat and Azamat's Sexydrownwatch Baywatch idea. It can be found here (NSFW...a lot).
  • Everything Is Racist: Most people shown in the south in the movie. The dinner party guests disperse as soon as they see Lunelle, and the antique store is filled with pro seccesion propaganda. Also the college students who are nice to Borat, but complains how "Minorities run the world". The guy behind the counter of the gun shop doesn't bat an eyelid when Borat asks for the best weapon for which to kill Jews and recommends a 9mm or a .45 and gives Borat a Desert Eagle to sample.
  • Fauxreigner
  • Fish out of Water
  • Foreign Queasine: Borat offers a politician some cheese that Borat's wife had made. To be polite, said politician eats some - and then Borat informs him that it was made from her breast milk.
  • Funny Background Event: When Borat finally catches up with Azamat, they go to his apartment. When Azamat opens his fridge, a bear's head is clearly visible on a plate, implying that Azamat has been eating the bear.
  • Funny Foreigner
  • Gag Penis: Well, if the size of Borat's censor box (which reaches past his knees) during the naked fight is any indication. Inverted by Azamat. Long story short, he never needs a censor box at any point during the fight in question.
  • Global Ignorance: Borat's excuse to Azamat for visiting California (he actually intends to wed Pamela Anderson) is that "Pearl Harbor is there. So is Texas."
  • Greedy Jew: Spoofed, especially "The Running Of The Jew."
  • Henpecked Husband: Borat, whose wife threatens to snap his dick off if he cheats on her. Fortunately for him, she dies.
  • The Hero's Journey
  • Honest John's Dealership: Reversed here, as the dealer sells them a vehicle that is exactly as described: a used ice cream truck.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Lunell.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: As an outsider, Borat is free to put his own mirror up to the silly conventions we take for granted.
  • Innocent Bigot: How Borat is portrayed. He's a generally friendly, well-meaning fellow and his grossly racist, misogynistic, and anti-Semitic views are a product of his upbringing in Kazakhstan, where such beliefs are apparently considered mainstream and normal.
  • Irony: Borat asks for the best weapon to kill Jews. He's briefly given a Desert Eagle.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Borat sings the national anthem of fictional Kazakhstan to the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner".
  • Mid-Battle Tea Break: The elevator interlude during the naked fight. Of course, as soon as the doors open, pandemonium continues.
  • Mockumentary: and it could've been a real documentary if Borat was real.
  • Naked People Are Funny:
    • The naked brawl. Also present in the massage scene on the DVD, though Borat spends a lot of time in that under a towel.
    • Borat's son, who is used as a Sight Gag in a picture, although his son is actually a transsexual porn star named Stonie.
  • Notable Original Music: The "Kazakhstan National Anthem", which Borat attempts to sing to the tune of the American National Anthem and is played with its own music during the credits. The real national anthem was accidentally replaced with Borat's during a Kuwaiti target shooting competition where the winner was from Kazakhstan. She ascended the podium and was 'treated' to Borat's version, much to her displeasure.
  • No Woman's Land: Kazakhstan.
  • NOT!: A "comedy expert" struggles to teach Borat the intricacies of this witticism.
  • N-Word Privileges:
    • Sacha Baron Cohen is a practicing Jew, and so generally gets a pass for making anti-semitism such a big part of his act. Many Jews still criticize him, however.
    • Parodied when Borat tries to check into a hotel after getting a ghetto makeover.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Baron Cohen employs a great deal of this in his characterization of Borat.
  • Overly-Long Gag: The naked brawl. The extras on the DVD have another in the form of Borat asking a grocery store employee what lots and lots and lots of items are. (They're all cheese.)
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Borat and Azamat are both extremely anti-Semitic.
  • Poirot Speak
  • Refuge in Audacity: Borat's idea of "marrying" Pamela Anderson is shoving her into a bag and trying to run off with her—an instance of marriage by capture. He almost makes it, too.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Technically, Borat is correct when he claims that on average, men have bigger brains than women. Because head size is proportional to body mass and men are usually bigger - although because women have denser collections of neurons, the actual brain capacity is identical.
  • Ruritania: The depiction of Kazakhstan.
  • Scare Chord: parodied, upon Borat's discovery that his hosts for the night are Jewish.
  • Self-Deprecation: All the jokes mocking Judaism can be countered by the fact that Sacha Baron Cohen himself is Jewish. Fair enough.
  • Star-Making Role: This film indeed launched Sacha Baron Cohen's Hollywood career. He was previously a fan of Guilty Pleasure and was only famous on television. Also brought him fame in the U.S.; he was previously widely known only in his native UK.
  • Short Title: Long, Elaborate Subtitle:
    • Used for comedy. Also taken to the next level with the soundtrack: Stereophonic Musical Listenings That Have Been Origin in Moving Film "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"
  • Stylistic Suck: Borat's MySpace page, as well as the original official web site for the movie, which was done as an atrocious personal home page. Also used in-film with the faux-Kazakh Stock Footage.
    • The DVD itself also deliberately looks like a burned copy bootleg.
  • Super-Stoic Shopkeeper: Charting the lack of reactions to Borat's insane and offensive behavior is just as big a part of the comedy as their befuddlement and outrage.
    • The gun shop owner barely bats an eye before recommending a Desert Eagle to "kill Jews." In his defense, he might have simply been recommending a large purchase to an obviously ignorant customer, or playing a subtle joke by selling an Israeli weapon to an anti-semite.
    • When Borat asks what speed he should drive to kill gypsies, the driving instructor merely tells him to keep it at around 40 mph.
    • In one of the deleted scenes, Borat visits a supermarket and asks the supermarket manager what every single item in the cheese section is...he very patiently replies "that's cheese" to every single one.
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Quite possibly the most uncomfortable elevator moment in cinematic history. To elaborate, both men have been running around naked through a hotel, screaming in foreign-sounding gibberish. One of the men was threatening to beat the other silly with a huge rubber dildo. The prop is brought along for the ride in an already occupied elevator. Both men face forward, stand quietly, and enjoy the elevator ride. DING! Doors open. Running and screaming resume.
    • When Borat and Azamat enter the elevator naked, nearly all of the people on the elevator immediately get off. In fact, at first it looks like they're the only ones standing in the elevator until the camera quickly shifts and reveals a stone-faced man tucked in the corner.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist
  • Unusual Euphemism: Chocolate face and vanilla facenote .
  • Vulgar Humor: After politely asking a group of Southern ladies if he could be excused to use the restroom, Borat comes back with a baggie of his own poop, politely asking where he can place it.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The bear's head can be seen inside the fridge when Borat and Azamat make up, but the rest of its body? God knows.


Big Mommas HouseCreator/ 20 th Century FoxBreaking Away
Trenchcoat WarfareImageSource/Live-Action FilmsFunny Foreigner
Bon Cop, Bad CopFilms of 2005 - 2009 The Bothersome Man

alternative title(s): Borat
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