🎥🍣 Movie Sushi — Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
We first meet Borat Sagdiyev in his hometown of Kuzcek, a small, tumbledown village. It’s a place where neighbourly rivalry focuses on who has a step outside their house and who doesn’t. As we discover, Borat shares his bedroom with livestock and proudly tells us that his sister is “number four prostitute in whole of Kazakhstan”. The local mechanic doubles as abortionist.
His favourite hobbies he lists as ping pong, sunbathing and disco dancing. His day job is less innocuous. He commentates the Kazakh Running of the Jew competition, with vigour and contempt. We’re shown footage of this event. When the female “Jew” in oversize costume pauses momentarily, the excitement of our anti-Semitic commentator grows. A ceremonial, oversized egg is produced by the Jew and dozens of young people rush the barriers to destroy the Jew egg like a piñata.
Borat is overjoyed to learn that he’s been chosen to investigate the U, S and A (“the greatest country in the world”) on behalf of Kazakhs everywhere. He’ll bring Azamat Bagatov with him as producer. Everybody in the village is pleased, but his wife threatens to attack him if he cheats on her. Typically superstitious, Borat brings with him a jar of gypsy tears — to help fight off AIDS. Borat reminds the town rapist to only rape humans, no animals.
The camera crew soon touches down in New York City, where Borat gets stuck into playing kiss chase with random, pedestrian men — his naïve attempt at friendship. Sticking to his backward ways, Borat washes his clothes in the Central Park lake and accidentally releases his companion chicken on the subway, starting fights with yet more strangers. We also see him masturbate in front of shop window mannequins and defecate in some expensively-arranged Manhattan shrubbery.
On the way upstairs to his hotel room, he complains in the lift that he “will not move to a smaller room” but when he reaches his room, he’s overjoyed to have a chair of his own to sit in. Following a bizarre scene where Azamat (apparently, routinely) blow-dries inside Borat’s underpants, he reclines on the bed to watch the liberal, progressive, American programme, Baywatch. As soon as he sees CJ — in red, water panties — he falls in love. When he receives a message that his wife back in Kazakhstan has been killed by a bear, he sees it as a good omen. He’s free to head to California to find Pamela Anderson — the wholesome girl of his dreams.
He discusses the idea with his producer, Azamat and they agree they should avoid flying to LA. The airlines can’t be trusted since the Jews orchestrated 9/11. So, Borat takes driving lessons, the instructor agreeing to be Borat’s boyfriend, purely as a formality. On selecting a car to buy, he wants one that will help him attract a girlfriend “with shaved vagine” and with a built-in “pussy magnet”. True to form, he questions the potential cars’ ability to run down Jews and kill them. The dealership owner humours Borat and suggests which cars would help him do that.
He scores interviews with some top politicians, including one that he solemnly convinces to eat cheese made from his wife’s breasts during the televised discussion. Forever kissing men on the face and foregoing any women, Borat finds himself on a TV set. Here, the staff are entertained by his clumsiness, naïveté and over-enthusiasm.
As the opening act for a rodeo, Borat is warned off wearing his moustache — it could give other men the wrong impression. Nonetheless, he dons cowboy hat and collects his mic. His rousing speech whips up the vast crowd until he then loses them with talk of George Bush drinking the blood of every terrorist and that only lizards will remain after the “war of terror”. He then launches into the American national anthem. Unfortunately, he’s using his own lyrics. He talks up the relative merits of Kazakhstan’s potassium resources and the crowd turns hostile. It goes so badly, even the dressage horse stumbles.
Borat and Azamat drive on West, en route collecting a Baywatch magazine from a suspected gypsy yard sale. On seeing a small, plastic Barbie doll:
“Did you shrink her, gypsy?”
Then, they’re invited into a kindly, Jewish household. But, it’s only when the lady shows off her Jewish art that Azamat and Borat twig that they’re Jews, wary now of their concealed horns.
The elderly couple shape-shift into cockroaches and start invading Borat’s bedroom slowly under the door. It’s 3am and Borat has his crucifix close at hand. Azamat shares this state of terror and they both throw dollar bills at them but nothing seems to dissuade them. There’s nothing for it — the pair run from their room and drive away alive.
Taught a good lesson by this event, Borat heads to a gun shop.
“What’s the best gun to defend against a Jew?”
“I’d recommend a nine millimetre or a forty five, “
Borat doesn’t have the right credentials, so must make do with a live, black bear, Oksana, for protection.
Next stop, the Magnolia Mansion Dining Society. After a brief lesson in table manners — where showing full frontal photos of his favourite son are frowned upon — Borat takes his place at the table. Here, he continuously mishears “retired” as “retard” and, after a visit to the restroom, presents his host with a bag of “making dirt”. After learning it’s OK to invite guests of his own, a cheap-dressing, overweight hooker calls at the door. Borat quickly offends his new friends as he misreads their reaction and attempts to smooth out his unrefined conduct. The pastor announces he’s leaving and soon, even the police are called. Since his sister is number four prostitute in whole of Kazakhstan, prostitutes aren’t so frowned upon with Borat in Kazakhstan as they are in America.
Next, Borat’s in an antiques store. He slips and falls while surrounded by valuable artefacts and fine China, but when he goes to get up again, he causes yet more to crash to the ground and shatter. The dismayed owner can only watch the destruction unfold as Borat continues to break even more things as he keeps crashing to the floor. When, finally, the chaos is over, Borat has damaged $425 worth of antiques. He offers $180 and a bag full of public hair — explaining that he can get more in a few days’ time. The owner and his wife then order him out of their shop.
When he finds Azamat masturbating over his Baywatch magazine — specifically, the photos of Borat’s love interest, Pamela — Borat is enraged. Naked but for strategic, post-production pixilation, the two Kazakhs wrestle. During this epic tussle, a sex toy is produced — from an earlier Gay Pride event in Washington, DC — and used as a weapon. The fight spills out into the hotel corridor and downstairs to a Mortgage Brokers’ Annual Banquet. As a result of this vicious, public fight, Azamat leaves Borat to fend for himself, taking the money, Borat’s passport and even Oksana, the bear.
So, Borat hitch hikes West. He catches a ride with “a group of young scholars” — all frat boys. They all get very drunk and talk down women.
“You never call them afterwards,”
“Why, because they don’t have telephones?”
“No, because they don’t have my respect!”
When they learn of Borat’s infatuation and quest across the country to find the lovely Pamela Anderson, they immediately show him a porn film she was in. Borat is gutted — he always thought of her as having saved herself for him. He feels so forlorn that he leaves the bus. On the sidewalk, he burns the Baywatch magazine and, while he can’t bring himself to slaughter his chicken, he instead sets it free.
Now, looking like a hobo — with bad hair and dirty grey suit — he stumbles upon a super church currently in session ministering. People are speaking in tongues and praising the Lord with a big a sound system behind them. They welcome Borat, in his current, dejected state with open, Christian arms. On the microphone, he asks the crowd if Jesus loves him. The response is deafeningly positive. He’s made to briefly faint with the overwhelming power of Jesus, then, he catches a lift to LA with some of the parishioners.
He bumps into Azamat doing street theatre on the Sunset Strip and the two finally settle their differences. Azamat tells Borat that, apparently, women are allowed to write books in America and that Pamela has written one herself. She’s doing a book signing around the corner the following day and Borat is totally reinvigorated. Azamat has even woven Borat a Kazakh wedding sack in preparation for the proposal. Borat will declare his love for her in the traditional Kazakh fashion.
The day of the signing, Borat waits patiently in line with his sack folded under his arm. He knows from the Baywatch magazine that she’s spontaneous, so he’s hopeful it’ll work. He’s ready with his formal, Kazakh-style wedding declarations, also. These are like a brief, but over-inclusive, verbal breakdown of his family standing and honourable intent. Of course, she refuses him. Even so, he throws the sack firmly over her head and down to her waist before all hell breaks loose. Security rush in, she’s screaming and runs off. He chases her through the bookstore proclaiming his love for her. Security guards pursue him out into the parking lot. He now mistakes her terror as pre-wedding jitters, reassuring her he’s nervous too.
Borat is finally wrestled to the ground.
Starring Sacha Baron Cohen. Ken Davitian. Luenell. Rated 15. Dir Larry Charles. Released in the UK 2006. Runtime 1hr 24mins