Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Metacritic Metascore: 89
IMDB: 7.3


Release Date: 03 November 2006
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox
Budget: $18M
Worldwide Gross: $262.5M
OSCAR Nominations: 1
Total Film Awards: 20

Borat: "He is my neighbor Nursultan Tuliagby. He is pain in my assholes. I get a window from a glass, he must get a window from a glass. I get a step, he must get a step. I get a clock radio, he cannot afford. Great success!"

SYNOPSIS: Kazakh TV talking head Borat is dispatched to the United States to report on the greatest country in the world. With a documentary crew in tow, Borat becomes more interested in locating and marrying Pamela Anderson.

Many people had practically no idea who Sacha Baren Cohen was when this was released, except possibly for his small role as the gay French Nascar driver in 'Talladega Nights'. This is because the show he had, Da Ali G Show, was a very unpopular show. Mainly because it was on HBO and late hours of the night. Unfortunately, many people never watched the show not because they didn't like it, but because they didn't know it existed. Da Ali G Show was an incredibly original variety/reality show featuring Cohen in three roles including Borat (whom is the main character of the movie).

TRIVIA: The unusual route that Borat takes to fly from Kazakhstan (Romania) to America makes the following stops: Moscow, Northern Turkey, Central Algeria, Kiev (Ukraine), Southwestern Russia (possibly Rostov or Sochi--the latter hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics), Helsinki (Finland), Southern Greenland, and finally to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City.

Cohen, posing as these different characters would interview politicians and such who were unaware the interview was a joke. The reactions Cohen would get out of people including one politician telling him to 'go f*ck himself', were priceless.

TRIVIA: Most of the footage from the Kazakh national anthem segment at the end of the film is made up of 1980s-era Estonian TV commercials. It also features a number of political figures, such as the current president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, among them.

I went into this film expecting a funny movie but was skeptical about how funny the movie would be. Usually, film adaptations of short five-minute skits don't work so well, examples that include 'Superstar', and the 'The Ladies Man' among others, which are all funny at times, but not worth their 90-120 minute runtimes. However, when the ending credits of this movie started to roll and I departed the theater, my stomach was sore from laughing so hard.

TRIVIA: Original director Todd Phillips left the production after shooting the rodeo "Star-Spangled Banner" scene, citing "creative differences."

In terms of pure unadulterated cringe-worthiness, this film just about outshines them all. It is brilliant, horrific, hilarious, sad, outrageous, revealing, and incredibly clever. It shows up people's narrow-mindedness, their racism, and their inability to accept or understand different cultures.

TRIVIA: Johnny Depp, George Clooney and Steve Martin, all of whom are huge fans of Sacha Baron Cohen, contacted him about having a cameo in the movie. However, Baron Cohen refused because it would have ruined some of the gags if they knew what was going on.

In our age of uber-political correctness, "Borat" comes sweeping through like a brisk and refreshing wind, completely bounding over every cultural taboo we've erected around ourselves. Thus, no one is safe: Borat takes on Jews, blacks, gays, feminists, middle-Americans, religious fanatics, frat boys.

TRIVIA: The village in Kazakhstan is called "Glod" and it is located in the Dambovita region of Romania. "Glod" literally translates from the Romanian language into the English language as "mud." Reportedly, villagers of the Romanian town said they were paid just GBP£3.00 each.

The only weapon against the bumbling Borat is a sense of humor, which this movie shows most Americans painfully lack. Indeed, if there is any message to be had from "Borat" (and I'm not sure there is much of one, beyond its fascinating cultural experiments), it's that everyone needs to lighten up and not take themselves so seriously.

TRIVIA: Celebrities and famous people who are spoofed and/or parodied and/or referenced in this comedy include: George W. Bush, Donald Trump, Huey Lewis, Adolf Hitler, Oliver Hardy, Michael Jackson, Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Barbara Bush (deleted scene).

The image of Americans projected in this film varies from heartwarming to downright frightening. New Yorkers threaten Borat with physical violence when he approaches them on a subway. Feminists walk out on him when they find his views on women too much to tolerate. Folks out in the heartland commiserate with him over his hatred of gays and Jews, while a gun shop owner even helps him pick out the best weapon for shooting Jewish people.

TRIVIA: The nude photos Borat shows to the etiquette coach of his teenage son are actually photos of gay porn star Stonie. The producers chose him because they wanted someone who "easily looked 13-14 years old," but was actually of legal age and willing to do frontal nudity.

A sweet Jewish couple gives him a place to sleep and bring him a homey meal (that is, before they turn into invading cockroaches). A group of manic Pentecosts helps him find Jesus. An RV full of frat boys make complete asses of themselves by espousing their hopelessly ill-informed views on minorities in our country and the need to revert to slavery.

TRIVIA: The police were called on Sacha Baron Cohen ninety-two times during the production of this film.

The majority of people treat Borat in the condescending way of those who want to think of themselves as being culturally aware without really knowing anything at all about other cultures. These people become rude the second Borat offends their sense of propriety. On the other hand, the disenfranchised of America greet Borat with open arms, and we see a group of gays and a group of folks from lesser means interacting with him as if no cultural boundaries existed at all. The film's sweetest (and most unexpectedly so) moments come from Borat's befriending of a black prostitute.

TRIVIA: When Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) speaks Kazakh, it is mostly Hebrew disguised by a heavy fake Eastern European accent. The Hebrew is quite understandable and contains many in-jokes. Baron Cohen admitted this in a rare "out of character" radio interview on National Public Radio in the United States.

DIRECTOR: Larry Charles
WRITER: Sacha Baren Cohen, Anthony Hines
FILMING LOCATIONS: Glod, Romania - Atlanta, GA - Dallas, TX
FILMING LOCATIONS: NYC - Gaithesburg, MD - Birmingham, AL

TRIVIA: The suit Sacha Baron Cohen wore while playing Borat Sagdiyev had deliberately never been cleaned.

Thank God for movies like this and for performers like Sacha Baren Cohen who go above and beyond normal boundaries. If nothing else, they remind us that our cultural boundaries only matter as much as we let them and that all of the fears that govern political correctness are mostly ungrounded. After all, virtually every person in this film was offended at one point or another, and as far as I can tell, all of them lived to tell about it.

TRIVIA: The FBI assigned a team to Sacha Baron Cohen during the filming of Borat (2006) due to numerous reports of a "Middle eastern man traveling the Midwest in an ice cream truck."

Some may call 'Borat' the funniest film ever made, and that's not an understatement.' Borat' is without a doubt one of the most original and ingenious comedies to be released in the last couple of decades that still holds up pretty well to this day.

Which encounter did you find the most cringeworthy?

Are you a fan of or have you ever watched Da Ali G show?

What was your favorite / least favorite aspect of this film?

What was your favorite scene?


Stay safe my friends.

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