We rejoin Borat 14 years after his initial journey to the states – but has that been too long? We look at the latest release from comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. SPOILERS !
Borat Sagdiyev has been imprisoned in a gulag for life. He is released with a mission to deliver Kazakh Minister of Culture Johnny the Monkey to President Donald Trump in an attempt to redeem the nation.
Being a fan of the first film I was looking forward to this release. The trailer was the perfect snapshot of the chaos we’ve come to expect. As it turned out this was false advertising….
The overwhelming factor with this outing is : the jokes are thinly constructed and heavily weighted with a political slant. There’s a political message here but much like Sacha, the audience is unaware exactly what that is.
For the most part it’s the continuation of themes from the first film : Ignorance is funny, racists are stupid and full of hate. The only new addition to this shtick is the parroting of the mainstream media narrative : OrAnGe MaN bAd.
The character narration becomes tedious early on, with Borat somehow explaining the jokes as they occur. Narratively the first half has very little direction. The aim throughout seems to be a Jackass-style collection of orchestrated scenarios but it comes across more like bad production than Bad Grandpa.
The cringe factor that made the first film so appealing is still evident here, however it has translated to cringing for the production rather than the scenarios on display. The audience is slightly less convinced by the interactions this time around which becomes evident in the finales extensive editing and fast-cutting of shots.
At various points during the film it feels like Cohen has forgotten how to do the Borat accent. Performance-wise the physical comedy is consistent but sees both Sacha Baron Cohen and Maria Bakalova (who carried much of the film) corpsing throughout.
To address the elephant in the room or at least the implied honey trap / gotcha scene – I’m not sure quite what to call it. The production had an attractive young lady flirt with an aging politician (Rudy Giulani), feeling his leg and sharing alcohol, only for her to lead him into an ajoining bedroom to continue drinking away from the cameras. I’m not quite sure this qualifies as a “sting”.
I think we’re all in agreement that abuse of power is wrong, sexual assault is wrong, but what i saw on the screen was a man flattered by the advances of a young woman who implied further advances. It seems less #MeToo and more #Entrapment.
Narratively it feels like they hinged the film on this scene and worked back from there, with Cohen utilising the event as the selling point to garner tabloid headlines.
It’s refreshing to see a comedian break new ground in 2020. This type of politically-themed rhetoric could potentially catch on. A bold statement on American politics – what a breath of fresh air!….. NAT!
Just like being six feet tall on Tinder is not a personality trait – parroting main stream media isn’t a substitute for comedy writing. Most surprisingly Peter Baynham (of Stewart Lee and Richard Herring, Steve Coogan, and Armando Ianucci collaborative fame) was attached to the screenplay.
The wacky promotion antics and salacious headlines couldn’t save this one. The world has moved on from Borat. The delivery this time around feels like another hollow, moral scolding from Hollywood – claiming social justice while promoting systematic racism and the misrepresentation of Kazakhstan (who have seemingly been bullied into adopting this “VERY NICE” guise for their tourist board promotion). The moral hypocrisy of the comedian could at least be ignored if his end result was put into the context of “satire” or “art”, but this one struggles to even be “funny”.