Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Movie with Abe: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm


Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Directed by Jason Woliner
Released October 23, 2020 (Amazon Prime Video)

In 2006, Sacha Baron Cohen brought his bumbling Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev to the big screen, highlighting the stupidity of the masses in a number of staged scenes mixed in with a loose fictionalized story. In the time since, the world has undeniably become more absurd, and it makes sense that Cohen would decide to bring the character back for another global misadventure. It’s important to know what to expect when preparing to watch Borat in action, spearheading a narrative that’s often obscene as a way to draw out the worse impulses in people who have no problem doing and saying deplorable things on camera.

This film, whose full title is “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” finds Borat being released from prison and charged with a mission to bribe President Donald Trump with a prized Kazakh monkey. When he arrives in America, he finds that the monkey has died but his teenage daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova) is very much there and desperately seeking his approval. In his ill-advised quest to reach the top Republicans in power, Borat is forced to confront what he believes to be true in the midst of Tutar’s gradual yearning for independent thought.

The primary joke being made here is that Kazakhstan is a backwards country where women have absolutely no rights and are indoctrinated with preposterous lies to keep them from asking questions. As with the first film and much of Cohen’s work, portraying bigotry provides an opportunity for others to freely display their opinions, which can be quite disturbing and horrifying. Some of the material, like Borat panicking at the thought that the “national pride” of Kazakhstan that was the Holocaust didn’t happen and then being relieved when two Holocaust survivors assure him it did, is a bit much to take, and that which works better, particularly involving those who believe the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax and the government has no right to impose restrictions on its citizens, may be more upsetting than humorous in this present moment.

Even if this film does lean towards the immature and stupid, it’s best viewed as a mockery of what it showcases rather than an encouragement of it. More importantly, it manages to reach a conclusion that’s both clever and unexpectedly sweet, conveying a far more intelligent structure behind a less sophisticated finished product. Early on, Borat explains how his fame has made it difficult for him to operate unnoticed, and Cohen’s pranks and Borat’s legacy have indeed been influential on popular culture and even politics in some cases. As a whole, this film is a mixed bag, but an emphatic finish and the opportunity for reflection on its contents makes it feel considerably stronger and more worthwhile.

B

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