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"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

Synopsis

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 to learn about its culture.

His odyssey includes stops in such diverse places as New York City, Washington DC, a live morning Show, a 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.

Controversies

It is worth noting that a) the director and both producers - including 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. 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 Kazhakhstan (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 sector[1].

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.

Tropes used in Borat include:


  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Borat catches Azamat masturbating over Borat's Pamela Anderson magazine. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Accentuate the Negative: The movie presents a cross-section of the biggest idiots in America (*cough* rednecks *cough*).
    • There are some positive ones. Despite their incomprehensible language, the black guys were nice to Borat, and despite the scary preacher guy, the people at the born-again Christian service were genuinely trying to help Borat through his problem.
    • If anything, most of the people Borat encounters are trying to be as patient and as accommodating as possible. Considering how hard he makes it for them, it says a great deal about the politeness and friendliness of complete strangers.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Some people did not even know Kazakhstan was a real country.
  • Bad Humor Truck: Borat and Azamat's choice of cross-country conveyance, complete with trained guard animal a black bear named Oksana.
  • 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 and trying to shake hands: "Touch me and I will punch you in your fucking balls!"
    • A guy on the subway was okay with it until he tried to kiss him.
  • 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
  • Cringe Comedy
  • 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.
  • Elevator Action Sequence/Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Quite possibly the most uncomfortable elevator moment in cinematic history. 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. Said 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.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Since most of the characters aren't actors and didn't know during filming that Borat wasn't real.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: Borat and Azamat secure a black bear as a guard animal to protect their truck. This works out as well as could be expected.
  • Fan Disservice: The naked fight
  • 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.
  • Greedy Jew: Spoofed, especially "The Running Of The Jew."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • No Woman's Land/Ruritania: Kazakhstan is depicted as these and taken to the utter limit.
  • NOT!: A "comedy expert" struggles to teach Borat the intricacies of this witticism.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: 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.)
  • 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.
  • Refuge in Vulgarity: 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.
  • Scare Chord: 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.
  • 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"
  • Slur Privileges: Sacha Baron Cohen is a practicing Jew, so he generally gets a pass for making anti-Semitism such a big part of his act. Still, many Jews still criticize him.
    • It is, however, important to recognise exactly what Cohen's doing; The character he creates naturally doesn't mean the things he says, because hey, he's a character. The authenticity of how Cohen pulls off Borat, however, enables him to reveal some pretty screwed up prejudices in people.
    • Parodied when Borat tries to check into a hotel after getting a ghetto makeover.
  • 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 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 gunshop 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.
    • Hopefully he understood that Borat was making a joke. Selling a gun to a person who openly tells that he is planning to commit a murder isn't something that any legitimate gunshop owner wants to do.
    • When Borat asks what speed he should drive to kill gypsies, the driving instructor merely tells him to keep it at around 40 mph.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Chocolate face and vanilla face.
  • What Happened To The Bear?: Its head can be seen inside the fridge when Borat and Azamat make up, but the rest of its body? God knows.

Notes

  1. But be warned: Khazakhstan does not, in fact, have the world's greatest potassium production
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