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

Reviewed on 2007 January 30

I heard a lot about this movie, and I finally broke down and rented it. It wasn’t as funny or as offensive as I expected, but I give Sacha Baron Cohen credit for having the guts to do this. Too bad it was just so ugly.

Borat Sagdiyev (Cohen) is a reporter in glorious nation of Kazakhstan, and is tapped to go to the United States to educate the Americans about his country. He brings his trusty camera man Azamat Bagatov (Ken Davitian) with him to chronicle the event. Along the way he deals with high society, a rodeo crowd, fratboys, and the quest for a future Mrs. Borat. A lot was said about the treatment of Borat’s dinner guest at a party but I honestly think at that point his hosts just had enough. I know what Cohen was going for but a lot of it was too mean-spirited to be really enjoyable. I think the funny bits are the “lucky animal” sequences and when Borat and Azamat crash the Mortgage Brokers Annual Banquet.

I didn’t feel like anyone was singled out; the movie made fun of pretty much anything that was breathing. Mostly he was just running around pranking people and watching their reactions. Some people said it showed how ugly Americans are (OK, the rodeo bit made me squirm), but for some reason a lot of reviewers that praise the movie had it in for the New Yorkers, calling them hateful. Yeah, buddy, if you say so. If someone sat next to you on a subway and started acting like Borat, would you feel like talking to them? A lot of it is like a five-year-old trying to show you a mouthful of chewed-up food to get a reaction. The only real thing I think Cohen accomplished is making anti-Semitism look stupid. The rest? Just take the “O” out of Borat’s name and you’ve got the character.

One chocolate morsel.



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