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In 2006, Borat Sagdiyev became a phenomenon. While the Sacha Baron Cohen character was familiar to some audiences, as he was first introduced on the series Da Ali G Show, his feature film turned him into an icon. People watched with mouths agape as the fake Kazakhstani immigrant exposed the strangeness of American life and participated in downright outrageous behavior, and it generated an uproarious response that led to blockbuster success. Now he’s coming back for Borat 2, titled Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, and that makes this the opportune moment to reflect on the highlights of his previous movie.
Reflecting on the original Borat, there are a number of key scenes that particularly stand out in memory, and we’ve put this feature together in celebration of those hilarious cinematic moments. Like the movie in its entirety, there is a mix of both real and fake, but what all of the sequences share in common is that they’re remarkably funny.
Life In Kazakhstan
When it comes to understanding a person, it helps to understand where it is that they come from, and watching the depiction of Kazakhstan life in Borat you certainly get a grounding of the character in a particular reality. An extreme parody that was actually filmed in Romania, Kazakhstan is depicted as beyond poverty-stricken and beyond anti-Semitic, and the bluntness with which the ridiculousness is handled is genius. From the “naughty-naughty” town rapist to the unexplained cow living in his house, it takes only a few minutes watching the film before it has you rolling on the floor in hysterics.
Making Friends With New Yorkers
The cross-country trip that Borat embarks on in the movie does a wonderful job showing the extreme diversity of modern American life, and while doing so plays with a number of regional stereotypes. For example: it may surprise you to learn that the people of New York on the whole aren’t the warmest and friendliest bunch. Admittedly nothing in the situation is helped by the fact that Borat acts like a total freak – unleashing a chicken in his luggage on the subway, and asking attractive women “how much?” – but it’s also ridiculous just how abhorrent some individuals find even the slightest outreach from a stranger.
The National Anthem
When Borat begins his special appearance at a Virginia rodeo, things actually start out on a pretty good foot. The crowd doesn’t fully grasp parody in the immigrant’s support of the Iraq War, calling it America’s “War of Terror” and calling for President George W. Bush to drink the blood of Iraqi citizens, but things fall apart quickly when he starts singing the national anthem. The audience is with him at the start as he replaces the words of Francis Scott Key with the lyrics from the Kazakhstan national anthem, but he loses them pretty damn fast when he starts talking about all other countries being run by little girls and railing on international potassium exports.
Of course, the bit also has the perfect punchline with the flag-waving man on horseback falling to the ground in the background.
The Dinner Party
The kind word that can be used to describe Borat’s behavior is “rude,” but the extremes of that word’s definition are pushed to a breaking point when the film’s titular protagonist attends a dinner party with an eating club while traveling through the South. To the credit of the hosts, they exhibit some extreme patience while Borat demonstrates that he is unaware of how to use indoor plumbing and insults the appearance of one of the women at the table. There’s only so much they can take, though, and the limit proves to be the Kazakhstani inviting a prostitute over to be his guest.
Sacha Baron Cohen is a remarkably bold performer who is willing to go to some extreme lengths to get a laugh from an audience, and nowhere in Borat is that clearer than the scene where the protagonist finds his producer, Azamat (Ken Davitian) masturbating using Borat’s Baywatch magazine. This ultimately leads to what has to be one of the most disgusting fight scenes in cinematic history, as the two not only wrestle naked in their hotel room, but take their fight out into public spaces as well – including a convention ballroom where an event is being held.
The Frat Dudes
If a person is harboring horrible, hateful ideology, a simple way to expose it is by making them feel like they are in a “safe” place surrounded by people who think the same way – and that’s what makes the frat boys scene in Borat so jaw-dropping. Within the span of just a few minutes sitting around with the immigrant in a camper the young men espouse their wish that slavery existed in America, and share multiple racist viewpoints, and it’s staggering to watch. It’s ugly, shocking, and eye-opening – and while it’s not a laugh-out-loud part of the mockumentary, it is an important part of the portrait that the film paints of American life.
Kidnapping Pamela Anderson
Does it make it less funny that the kidnapping of Pamela Anderson at the end of Borat is staged? Yeah, a little. However, when weighed against the possibility that Sacha Baron Cohen could have been arrested (or worse), the movie definitely made the right choice – and the sequence is definitely hilarious. The entire story leads up to the meeting between Borat and the Baywatch star, and it’s rewardingly ridiculous to see the Kazakh reporter try and bag her up and steal her away. It’s a final note in the journey through America that the upcoming sequel is going to have a hard time topping.
If reading this article has only made you more interested in revisiting Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan prior to the sequel, the good news is that the movie now available to stream for all Amazon Prime subscribers. As for the follow-up, audiences will be able to catch it on the same service starting on October 23.