Coming to America 

Borat obliterates society's delicate fabric, in a good way

Go ahead, try to find a more disgusting, uncouth and politically incorrect movie than Borat, which is so wrong in so many ways you have no choice but to laugh. If by some chance you do find a more vile picture, I seriously doubt it would be as side-splittingly funny or courageous enough to attempt some of the things that are done here.

The humor in the film, the full title of which is Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, comes from innocence and ignorance. Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen, who played Frenchman Jean Girrard in Talladega Nights) is a television news reporter from Kazakhstan who is sent to the United States to learn American values and customs, all in an effort to bring his learning back home and improve his native country. According to Borat, there are three main problems in Kazakhstan: "economic, social and Jew."

The trip starts in New York City, where he tries to kiss everyone he meets, defecates in Central Park and masturbates outside a shop window. His intention is to stay in New York, but after seeing Baywatch, he becomes obsessed with Pamela Anderson and embarks upon a cross-country trip to Los Angeles to "locate and marry" Anderson. Joining him on the trek is the heavy-set Azamat (Ken Davitian), whose fight scene with Borat is guaranteed to win "Best Fight" at next year's MTV Movie Awards.

Along the way, Borat learns to drive, meets with a humor coach and feminist group, buys a "sexy" car and unwittingly encounters the gay community in Washington, D.C. He also hangs out in gangland Atlanta, nearly destroys a Civil War antiques store in Dallas and sings the Kazakhstan national anthem (to the tune of the U.S. anthem) at a Texas rodeo. One of the funniest sequences comes in Birmingham, Alabama, as Borat eats with the local dining society. Not only is he unsure of how to use toilet paper during a bathroom break, but he also insults a minister's wife and invites a large, rotund African-American prostitute to join them for dinner.

The movie is amazing in its ability to build on the candor and raunchiness that has come before and, more impressively, in the fact that each and every scene is uproariously funny. It's as though Cohen has taken everything Americans are sensitive about--racism, homosexuality, nudity, even table manners--and ridiculed every last bit of it through the guise of an unsuspecting third-world television reporter who simply doesn't know any better. This is the only premise that can work for such a comedy, and Cohen and director Larry Charles have the courage and talent to pull it off remarkably well.

There are so many things that can't be said in the politically correct world in which we live. An American could never blame Jewish people for 9/11, or get away with thinking that a woman actually does not have the right to choose who she sleeps with. But Borat can, and when he does it, it's absolutely hysterical. Thank you, Borat, for allowing us to laugh so hard at ourselves.

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