Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm

 

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Once again Sacha Baron Cohen pushes the envelope just when the world needs to laugh 

at its own tragedy.


Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Trump card: Sacha Baron Cohen as the commander in chief

  
Even as this week’s headlines make a mockery of last week’s news, one can rely on Sacha Baron Cohen to shake things up. In spite of being a sequel to a fourteen-year-old hit, Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm is so topical and bang-on – and so welcome – that it makes one’s tear ducts bleed. And, squeezing in before the US election, it ends with the caption NOW VOTE – OR YOU WILL BE EXECUTE. Needless to say, Baron Cohen sends up Trump’s heartland demographic with such blistering acuity that one almost feels sorry for them. But Baron Cohen’s net is much wider than the struggle for America’s future, as it demonises every form of self-righteous pomposity with all guns blazing. In an age of woke timidity, it is gobsmacking to see the comedian lance every politically correct boil in his path. Laugh or be damned.

 

At heart a mockumentary, Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm does have a plot. Having brought shame on the Republic of Kazakhstan (the ninth largest country in the world) for making fun of it in his 2004 moviefilm, Borat Sagdiyev (Baron Cohen) has been serving time in the gulag – and forbidden from ever “make reporting” again. Still, it was a better fate than that which befell the film’s producer, who was turned into an armchair in the presidential palace. It is there that Borat is frogmarched to learn of his new mission. In his absence, the “US&A was ruin by an evil man who stood against all American values – Barack Obama. This led to other Africans becoming political leaders” (cut to a photo of a blacked-up Justin Trudeau). But now that McDonald Trump has risen to power – and shown favour to dubious world leaders – the Kazakh president wants in on the party. So Borat is tasked to deliver a gift to Mike Pence (“Mike Penis, the vice pussy-grabber”), in the hope of strengthening ties between the two nations.

 

Of course, the plot is just an excuse on which to hang a series of outrageous skits that show up the absurdity of the modern world, the US in particular. But since the success of Borat, Baron Cohen is now a recognisable figure (“people make recognize my face”) and is besieged by autograph hunters and selfie narcissists. So, in order to carry out his plan, Borat adopts a number of outlandish disguises, including – spoiler alert – a Donald Trump fat suit, on which occasion he is apprehended by security. If nothing else, Baron Cohen is completely fearless and repeatedly milks the civility of well-meaning Americans, the better to shame them. It’s an uncomfortable mix, tossing in genuine belly laughs alongside toe-curling scenes of public humiliation. Inevitably, he frequently over-steps the mark, and a sequence in which he and his daughter perform a fertility dance at a debutante ball is one such, a moment of impropriety that will be talked about for years to come.

 

Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm will certainly earn its place on the cultural landscape and, for all its missteps and crudity, it has more wit and courage packed into any ten minutes than most comedies can hope for in two hours. Its swipes at feminism, anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, racism, incest, the “hoax virus” and Trump hit home with the force of a knuckle duster and challenges us to laugh at ourselves. As his running mate (Borat’s “non-male son” Tutar), Maria Bakalova is a terrific sport and risks the ire of real-life participants all on her own. Some famous figures come off intact, but one can’t help feeling sorry for Rudy Giuliani, who has already become the talking point of the film. Others, though, were obviously in on the act, as no camera operator can be completely invisible.

 

Original title: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria Bakalova, Dani Popescu, Mike Pence and Rudy Giuliani, Macy Chanel, Pastor Jonathan Bright, Dr Jean Sheffield, Jeanise Jones, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and the late Judith Dim Evans (to whom the film is dedicated).

 

Dir Jason Woliner, Pro Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines and Monica Levinson, Screenplay Peter Baynham, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jena Friedman, Anthony Hines, Lee Kern, Dan Mazer, Erica Rivinoja and Dan Swimer, from a story by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Nina Pedrad and Dan Swime, Ph Luke Geissbühler, Pro Des David Saenz de Maturana, Ed Craig Alpert, Michael Giambra and James Thomas, Music Erran Baron Cohen, Costumes Erinn Knight, Second Unit Dir Sacha Baron Cohen.

 

Four by Two Films/Oak Springs Productions-Amazon Studios.

120 mins. UK/USA. 2020. Rel: 23 October 2020. Cert. 15.