We’re more than used to seeing people pretending to be something they’re not ……. Richard Madeley : television presenter, Boris Johnson : Prime Minister and heaven help us from those self serving celebrities who put on their ‘caring’ faces and suddenly come out of the woodwork when Children in Need are looking for someone to humiliate themselves on the telethon. Ali G and Borat are the comedy alter ego works of genius from Sacha Baron Cohen and the comedian has balls of steel to put himself into some of the scenarios he placed the the characters in. The first Borat film in 2006 was a brilliant example of this rightly earning him a Golden Globe and the screenplay being Oscar nominated and now we have a sequel essentially, Borat 2 or Borat Subsequent Moviefilm to give the film its correct title.
Here his hapless Kazakh journalist has returned home in shame having made his country an international laughing stock and thrown into a Gulag he is now given a chance of redeem himself. Things have changed since Obama was in power and Trump is the current President seen cosying up to the worlds dictators Putin, Kim Jong-Un and others and the Kazakh Premier wants in on Trump’s Big Boys Club and packs Borat off to the ‘US and A’ to make delivery of prodigious bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan as the title would have it. The bribe is a performing porn monkey. It’s only when the monkey turns up dead and Borat is told he will be executed when he returns home that he sets on the idea of gifting his 15 year old daughter Tutar to Vice President Mike Pence. To that end Borat sets about transforming his daughter from an inbred, wild haired, feral youth into a sleek debutante.
The world has moved on greatly since the 2006 film and its success made the character something of an easily recognised international figure and therefore Cohen has the same problem as he did with Ali G when they came to make his film namely, ‘How do you do prank scenarios with the character when so many are in on the joke?’ It all gets a bit meta as the answer the eight scriptwriters (including the excellent Peter Baynham) have come up with is to have Borat disguise himself, effectively Cohen playing Borat playing another person but still with that crazy Kazakh accent and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm flits back and fore between Borat and Borat in disguise.
There are some very funny moments early on but it soon starts to wear thin with Borat Subsequent Moviefilm playing as a narrative story with occasional hoax moments but nothing gets close to the society dinner he attends in the first film or the naked wrestling throughout the hotel with his manager. And that’s the problem because there is little in the sequel that has the touches of genius that made that first film so good. Instead the film is more of a double act with Borat and his daughter Tutar played by Maria Bakalova (who has one spectacularly queasy and tasteless scene). Cohen has also been highly vocal in his disdain for Trump that was seen to best effect in his satirical TV show, ‘Who is America?’ which often mercilessly shamed high profile figures but here, when the Republican bashing scenes play, it just feels flat and laboured and will quickly date the film.
Cohen’s not had much success with his comedy feature films lately notably with ‘Grimsby’ that bombed and returning to his much loved Borat would seem a certainty but here it proves otherwise and perhaps is an indicator that once the genie is out of the bottle the character cannot sustain another feature length film.
Here’s the Borat Subsequent Moviefilm trailer…….