23 October 2020 542 Views

Borat 2: A few Genuinely Great Laughs. But mostly Puerile, Pointless and Partisan.

by James Murphy

BORAT 2: I cannot even be bothered to keep renaming the subtitle

UNEXPECTED SEQUEL LAND ON AMAZON: MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS EMPIRE OF JOE BIDEN?

Ok. Let’s start with the good stuff:

  • Sacha Baron Cohen can still shock. That satirical edge is very much there; winning the trust of the unsuspecting and often igniting controversy. 
  • The movie was shot and edited against the odds; snuck safely into a spoiler free post production / release. Inspirational for the industry!
  • Good to see a classic Cohen character back onscreen, after the misfires of Grimsby / This is America.
  • You get 2 or 3 MASSIVE laughs. Visually, one is reminded of peak era Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther series.
  • Borat could equally be the new Charlie Chaplin Tramp.

But…The Bad News is, sadly, Bigger:

  • It’s RUSHED. That means it is on occasion, rather lazy. Old rope, money for?
  • Much of the time it is just nasty in tone rather than funny in content.
  • The right wing of America is an easy target now.
  • And ironically enough? They seem rather welcoming and kind, zany politics aside. They take in a foreigner and shield him during Quarantine. HOW RACIST?!
  • So if your intention, Sacha, was to shame them? You failed. Bigly. If you were attempting balance and an open mind? Ok. But too obscure a slant if so.

 

  • This film props up the myth that ‘post modern’ or ‘ironic’ racism / sexism / references to paedophilia et al are never off limits, provided they’re deployed in name of satire. It isn’t ‘ok’ or funny, even at the darker spectrum of comedy. Stop it now.

 

  • The disgusting caricature of Judaism and mocking of the Holocaust has to stop.
  • I don’t care if the writer/performer is Jewish or making points about racism. This is repellent.

 

  • It is actually rather boring and dull in places. On television, the character was helped by being part of an ensemble of fictional skit platforms.
  • Ali G and Bruno supplemented and arguably saved Borat from obscurity. In turn, they helped set up a kind of shared universe approach for the movie iterations. Oh how they are all much missed, here.

 

  • Ali G was funny because he reflected (and still does reflect) a lost youth and its wannabe gangster culture. Bruno exposed a then hidden subculture of homophobia and celebrity excess. Borat did toilet jokes. Nothing much has changed, except that Borat sadly is the seemingly most successful of the three characters, unfairly so.

 

  • Back when Ali G first launched? There was an innocent novelty to catching politicians saying the wrong thing while trying to look right on and cool. All done with heart, soul, wit, warmth. Borat has none of that; at least not here in this film.

 

  • By contrast, today? We get Borat: turning up in a Synagogue, dressed as a Nazi era caricature of a Jew. And depicting a girl (albeit off camera but even so..) masturbating to ‘Zadok the Priest’. It’s just not funny; it’s tragic. And offensive, in an inane rather than provocative way. 

 

  • The now infamous, viral overnight sensation of THAT Giuliani scene? It is simply nowhere near the KIND of class exhibited by Cohen’s early Ali G stuff.

 

  • Rudy is left looking odd, verging on the stereotype of the confused elderly man who can no longer control their actions.
  • One unflattering shot appears to depict the man DROOLING? ‘Drool-iani?’.

 

    • Does Rudy put his hand down his trousers?
    • Yes, seems that way (defamatory/actionable, prima facie, if not; eg if they used a double? But Cohen claims it’s all Rudy).
    • Equally could be seen as the man says it: ‘Removing his microphone’ : a stretch, but then so is the entire scenario.
    • In any event? Rudy had his prostate out, years ago, I thought? So quite what he MIGHT do ‘there’ is beyond me. But I digress..
    • ..The lady interviewer presents Giuliani a porno cartoon sketch book; and all but dances on his mini-Rudy.
    • It all feels like a KGB era sting/set-up. Once again, maybe that’s the ‘ironic’ point?
    • It’s just not funny. Gross. ‘On Both Sides’, as a famous world leader once said.

Anyway, we don’t get nude-y-Rudy. That WOULD be funny. Just Borat in drag, instead, running away from the scene. So you think drag is funny? Isn’t that anti-transvestitism? See where I am going, Sacha?

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON, HERE? One cannot pick and choose the subject and object of comedy today. The organic reactions in an audience will be founded in differing idiom to those of the authors. Especially in a world of relentless offence taking.

  • Either way?  The Rudy scene = A nasty, predatory trick, whereby both subject and object seem like prey and bait at once.
  • Nobody comes away victorious.
  • The whole affair is creepy, seedy and hardly a Watergate level scoop?
  • A frightful shame that Giuliani; once dubbed a hero of America, post 9/11, is now the butt of the contrived jokes of a counterpart who once reinvented comedy.
  • And a whiff of desperation to both parties, frankly.
  • Anything to stay relevant in a post satire era: where Trump steals all the laughs and the power? 

 

GRADE C++:

Though a MAJOR and WELCOME surprise the film exists at all; it’s also a MASSIVE Disappointment in quality as a whole.

Best watched as a sequence of You-Tube clips, at your discretion. You lose nothing by missing the film in its entirety, meantime. There just isn’t enough here to sustain an entire movie. Sorry!

 

I’ll stick to Ali G /Bruno (still works of genius, imho: bring them back; to end on a positive note! ). 



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