Borat's lost all the magic
Like many others, I was bitterly disappointed not to have seen Rudy Giuliani nude in the Borat reboot Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bride to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. But Sacha Baron Cohen’s new film is a political stunt packed with disappointments and falls far short of the original offend-all mockumentary.
In the film’s beginning we meet an aged Borat who has been sentenced to hard labour in a Kazakhstani gulag after the 2006 documentary made his country the laughing stock of the world. But the government’s approval of the new right-wing US administration under ‘Mac Donald Trump’ prompts them to release Borat and send him to America to woo Vice President Michael Pence.
He is joined by his daughter, Tutar Sagdiyev, who he eventually resolves to offer as a bride to Pence. When that fails, he settles for former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani who, in the film’s final sequence, agrees to join Tutar for a drink in her hotel bedroom after an interview held in the adjoining room. Giuliani says, ‘you’re gonna give me your name and address’ before sitting on the bed as Tutar untucks his shirt, which he then tucks back in.
There’s no doubt the interaction, which has caused some controversy and embarrassment for Trump’s most senior lawyer, would have gone somewhere seedy had Borat not charged in wearing his signature mankini and offered himself up instead of his daughter. At that moment Giuliani has the good sense to get out quickly.
Baron Cohen certainly got lucky with this scene but it’s eyewatering cringe is just about the only funny moment in the whole film. The main problem with Borat now, as his various disguises attempt to solve, is that his immense fame makes the casual offending of well-intentioned if a little thick Americans practically impossible. Everyone already knows who he is.
The result is Baron Cohen in a fat-suit acting out jokes in a string of rather disjointed and unfunny sketches. The Borat everyone knows and loves simply isn’t in the film at all. Instead, the plot revolves around his daughter throwing off a grotesque Kazakhstani spin on patriarchy which sees her living in cage and forbids her from masturbating because, as she is told, her toothed vagina will eat her alive.
Borat’s bizarre and appalling views are implied to be same as those of Trump voters. Indeed, the movie could be better described as one big chuckle at Republican America. At one point he and his daughter attend a Rotary ball in the deep south at which they dance for the attendees ending in Tutar lifting her dress to reveal her blood-soaked knickers to all in view. In another, she crashes a Republican woman’s meeting with a speech on the virtues of masturbation. But none of this is particularly clever and Baron Cohen is swiping at very low hanging fruit.
The film essentially lacks any of the genius and carefree comedy of the original and seems too concerned with politics instead of satire. Tutar is nowhere near as funny a sidekick as Borat’s old producer-companion Azamat. Baron Cohen has resurrected Borat the ill-mannered but lovable journalist for 2020 only to find out that such a character cannot really exist in today’s hyper-sensitive world. Sadly, one of the most politically incorrect films ever made has lost all its magic because it’s tried to be politically correct.