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“Borat” Bubbles to the Surface

Despite initial criticism from the Kazakh government, “Borat” opens today to a flood of publicity and generally positive reviews, even though Fox had concerns that the movie was getting dangerously close to being overhyped. Tracking on the pic was so-so several weeks ago, and the pic opens in just 837 theaters. One of the few negative reviews comes from Slate’s Ron Rosenbaum deconstructs Sacha Baron Cohen’s satirical anti-Semitism—on display last night on “The Daily Show” when his character refused to touch Jon Stewart—and concludes that he liked the HBO version of “Borat” better (the character was seen on Cohen’s “Da Ali G Show.”) He calls the movie Borat a “hamhanded moron.” HBO reruns all episodes of “Ali G” next week. The Washington Post surveys Kazakhs and finds a surprising reaction from Embassy spokesman Roman Vassilenko, who says that local Kazakhs break into two camps: “The first group of people think it’s outrageous, disgusting, a perversion of our traditions. The other group think that basically it’s a satire — not of Kazakhstan but a satire of U.S.anti-Semitism, racism and homophobia.” Initially upset, Vassilenko says he now falls into the second camp, and the Post even points out that the Kazakh deputy foreign minister recently invited Baron Cohen for a state visit. And a Kazakh tourism company is seeking to capitalize on the publicity with a “Kazakhstan vs. Boratistan” tour that promises “opportunities to meet and interact with the real Kazakhs” and try “kumyss, the deliciously tasting Kazakh traditional drink made from fermented horse milk.”

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