Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen), Kazakhstanian TV reporter, is dispatched to America on a mission. Borat and his producer Azamat Bagatov (Ken Davitian) are supposed to shoot interview pieces around New York City and, in theory, also bring back some ideas that might help Kazakhstan move into the 21st Century. Hence the full title: Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. And judging by Borat's opening scenes in "Kazakhstan" (which were actually shot in Romania), maybe even making it to the 19th Century might be a stretch in some areas. But anything can happen when traveling. Borat becomes obsessed with that symbol of all things American, Pamela Anderson, and abandons his mission to begin a poorly-funded, shoddily-planned and wildly ill-advised trip across America. ...

There is no way to quantify or qualify Borat as a film; you're pretty much immediately bowled over by a barrage of shockingly inappropriate jokes, and even then each one can be deconstructed down to individual atoms of brilliance. Early on, we get to see some of Borat's TV appearances; in one, he leans over a railing as a group of men wait in the streets for one of Kazakhstan's annual traditions: The Running of the Jews. That phrase is shocking, and so incongruous as to be funny ... but when the main attractions shows up, in a costume with a papier-maché head that looks like a perfect reproduction of a caricature from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, you're doubled over in laughter and a little awed by the amount of intellectual effort that's gone into a millisecond sight gag. And then there's a third joke that goes off like a depth charge a few seconds later ... and that leads to a perfectly timed, perfectly executed closer. This isn't a structured joke; it's choreographed, a dance of ideas and references and collective memories.

And then, of course, there are naked men wrestling. In the middle of a dinner meeting of realtors. The realtors, of course, did not know that their meeting would be interrupted by naked wrestling men as part of a low-cost comedy releasing on 837 screens in a limited, high-buzz platformed pattern, backed by 20th Century Fox. From what I'm given to understand, no one -- from the RV-driving frat boys to the inner-city homies, from sea to shining sea -- knew, as Borat interviews highly-placed elected officials, car dealers, leaders of clergy and the man in the street.