Borat Subsequent Moviefilm Oct 25, 2020 17:37:18 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Oct 25, 2020 17:37:18 GMT -5
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)
Directed by: Jason Woliner
Directed by: Jason Woliner
Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen) with his daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova) in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.
Congratulations if you had a Borat sequel on your 2020 bingo card residing somewhere comfortably next to "global pandemic" and "massive social/political upheaval." After swearing to retire the character in 2007, Sacha Baron Cohen once again dons the garb of the gaff-prone, anti-Semitic Kazakhstani journalist. This time around, however, it's not so easy to trick the unsuspecting public when your image is as ubiquitous as your cultural impact. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm shows early on that Borat roaming the streets of America unrecognized isn't possible like it once was, leading to him having to resort to multiple disguises ala Inspector Clouseau.
There's another big difference as well. Borat doesn't necessarily need to poke and prod passersby on the street into revealing their cruelest opinions. They're perfectly capable of that on social media, whether they're wealthy and famous or an average person. All these reasons and more led to Cohen deciding to retire the character in the first place, but I'll be the first to say it's very nice to see him suit up once again. Shot covertly during the initial shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic in America, this sequel tries to capture similar lightning in a bottle as its predecessor, and succeeds in large part due to a welcomed addition to the cast. More on that in a moment.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm opens with Borat breaking rocks in a labor camp as punishment for making a mockery of Kazakhstan with his first feature. The country as a whole is in economic disarray, right down to financial advisors attempting to commit suicide from the land's tallest building (a two story office built on a muddy plot). Without many options, the nation's ruler agrees to send Borat to America with a gift for "Vice Premiere" Mike Pence in hopes Donald Trump will make Kazakhstan a revered powerhouse in the eyes of the American government. The gift in mind? A monkey.
One problem: Borat discovers that his 15-year-old daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova) has eaten the monkey while being trapped in a crate, where women are housed like farm animals and Melania Trump, the movie tells us. In a haste, Borat decides to make his daughter the gift to the vice president, but not before giving her a total makeover. Tutar learns the role of women through an age-old book that renders women as subservient, made up gospel such as the idea that if a woman decides to pleasure herself, she will be sucked inside her own vagina. In America, however, with her father by her side, she will learn the wonders of makeup and breast enhancements in order to appease Pence in hopes to put Kazakhstan in good standing with America.
Humorous setpieces run amok in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and to spoil them would be criminal. Trips to cosmetic surgeons, bakeries, and post offices provide riotous belly laughs as Borat attempts to fan the flames of social transgressions. The shocking part, however, is when everyday folks brush off the uncomfortable or downright dehumanizing situations, such as the doctor willing to implant new "titties" onto a minor, or a (male) counselor at a women's clinic expounding about how every child is a gift despite Borat giving the impression he impregnated his own daughter.
Give credit where credit is due to Maria Bakalova, who is a total delight — such a talented performer that the film loses no steam when we focus solely on her exploits. I was tickled by her conversations with a professional babysitter, who watches her while Borat tries to scrape together the last of the funds for her breast implants. Bakalova is more than a sidekick; she carries herself with comic timing to match the veteran Cohen, and aids him in having a bright source of comedic inspiration for him as well.
Destined to be the film's most famous highlight — or low-light, rather — is the climax involving former New York mayor and current Trump advisor Rudy Guiliani participating in a TV interview in a hotel suite with Tutar passing herself off as a novice journalist. The two are mask-less and in close proximity, but if that's not enough, Guiliani coughs up a lung, insists he's fine, and creepily flirts with Tutar before the two proceed to the hotel bedroom. Your outrage will most likely depend on what side of the aisle you find yourself given the degree of partisanship in this country. One wonders how much further it would've went had Borat not interjected, and one wonders the ramifications Guiliani would've faced if what many of us assume transpired in fact did.
With how predominant hidden camera stunts and internet pranksters have become over the last decade, some of the luster of Borat has waned for a couple reasons. You know the participants had to sign release forms to be a part of the film, and there's grounds to believe many of the individuals made the butt of Borat's jokes are aware of the cameras at all times. This doesn't make Borat dressing up in a "Jew" costume equipped with money bags and a Pinocchio schnoz any less uproariously funny, but it does lessen the authenticity if you devote even a modicum of thought.
So much is thrown at the wall in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm that it's no surprise the film features some comic misses, including an ending that moves a hair too fast to resonate. But that's what happens when you have someone with unchecked comic prowess like Sacha Baron Cohen at the helm. You embrace the good and you shrug off the lackluster and there's plenty of good to go around — more than there should be given the dust that's started to accumulate on this persona.
NOTE II: Check out my review of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm on my web-show Sleepless with Steve. Catch the show Wednesday evenings at 8pm CST at twitch.tv/sleeplesswithsteve!
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen and Maria Bakalova. Directed by: Jason Woliner.