Lackluster sequels are par for the course, no question about it.
The number of great, or simply serviceable, sequels to come out of Hollywood over the years can be counted on two hands — with some room to spare, depending on who you ask.
For a film to perfectly duplicate the tone of its successful predecessor and recapture past characters only fall flat on its face, however, is another thing entirely.
“Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” is such a picture, perfectly encapsulating the modern Hollywood left’s willingness to misspend the bulk of its comedic energy mocking middle America and poking fun at President Donald Trump.
Jagshemash. If you see only one moviefilm this year, please see the only one that got made – mine.
Great success! Please, you look. Chenquieh. pic.twitter.com/ygtv4RT4GG
— Sacha Baron Cohen (@SachaBaronCohen) October 1, 2020
Released nearly 14 years after the wildly successful “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” Sacha Baron Cohen‘s long-awaited satirical romp hit screens nationwide Friday, streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.
The film once again follows fictional Kazakhstani journalist Borat Sagdiyev (Baron Cohen), presenting the poorly adjusted foreign reporter’s latest slew of American misadventures in the familiar mockumentary format popularized in past decades by “The Office” and “Arrested Development.”
This time around, however, Sagdiyev is not simply stumbling across the states in search of love and lessons in liberty.
Instead, the sequel narrative begins with Sagdiyev deep in the Khazakstani gulag detention system, sentenced to a life of prison labor for embarrassing the Central Asian nation on his last overseas “mission.” But fear not — Sagdiyev is immediately dragged before the Kazakhstani president and tasked with elevating his homeland’s international reputation with a gift to America — thus kicking off a globetrotting redemption story.
Unfortunately, the boon is seemingly granted at the movie’s end with the recognition that America is an ignorant nation, filled to the brim with ignorant fools. And the road to redemption is predictably paved with stock jokes made at the expense of the president, his allies, and supporters.
Of course, none of this is to say the film is a flop.
By many metrics, it is anything but, delivering a funny — albeit deeply vulgar — father-daughter story.
This is where the film shines, with Baron Cohen picking up exactly where he left off as Sagdiyev, and co-star Maria Bakalova bringing much-needed freshness as Borat’s daughter and foil, Tutar.
The dynamic between the two is brilliant, if bogged down a bit by comedic scenarios cut from the original and blatantly repackaged. And such things might be more excusable were it not for the fact that everything “new” this sequel brings is centered around Sagdiyev’s poorly crafted plot to marry Tutar off to America’s “Vice Premier Mikhael Pence.”
No, really. The narrative can be described only as a vehicle for the same tired Trump jokes American audiences have been treated to for the past five years. I mean, seriously, how many times are we going to hear the same commentary on middle America, this president’s perceived fascism or the admittedly gross, but not less played out, “Access Hollywood” line?
Not to mention, the film culminates in a “gotcha”-style, real-world interview filmed and edited to make Trump ally and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani look like sleazeball and potential pedophile. (Giuliani, of course, plays himself — an easily duped liability to the Trump administration).
Rudy Giuliani is dismissing suggestions he did anything wrong during the encounter with the actress. “At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate,” he said in a tweet. https://t.co/YplI5JFswc
— The Associated Press (@AP) October 22, 2020
Here is the Rudy Giuliani clip from Borat.
What do you think?
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) October 23, 2020
But it is not the political nature of the film that disappoints. Political comedy is not inherently unfunny.
Unoriginal, poorly distributed political comedy is unfunny.
And this is where the problem lies for “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm.”
Gone is the more equitably doled out mockery woven into its predecessor.
All that remains in its place is a poor political commentary, less humorous than that of the original and built around efforts to misrepresent, embarrass and discompose Hollywood’s biggest audience: the American everyman.
A shame the Hollywood left has sacrificed comedy at the altar of political progress. At least, we still have “South Park.”
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