‘Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm’ weaves drama onto a tight line between comedy and horror

November 24, 2020 — by Shaan Sridhar

If you’re a fan of comedy, you’ve probably noticed how the comedic landscape has changed over the past few years. America’s politics have grown increasingly divided, and sensitivity has peaked with it. The world of comedy has struggled under the divisiveness, tackling certain subjects head-on while abstaining from some of the biggest headlines to avoid backlash.

Comedy can be about many things, but mainstream comedy has always given an outsized portion of their time to politics. However, the lines between comedy and politics have become so blurred that the genre has seemingly forgotten its original job of being funny. Comedians have replaced their normal political jokes with a flurry of analysis, anger and call-to-actions, as if they were the host of MSNBC’s 4 p.m. hour.

In this drought for content that’s funny and political, but not outright political news, “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” is a welcome rainy day.

“Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” is refreshingly hilarious and unafraid to make its powerful political statement, but is limited by a new dramatic storyline about family that, while undeniably heartwarming, distracts from the film’s purpose.

“Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm,” is the sequel to the comedy classic “Borat,” a 2006 mockumentary made up of prankster interviews with real-life people, sewed together with scripted scenes. Borat, a fake disguise for actor Sacha Baron Cohen, is nothing short of obnoxious, offensive, rude and clueless, but that’s what makes the character ingenious.

The movie contains multiple scenes that will make you burst into outright laughter, yet leave you horrified. In the film, Borat and his daughter, Tutar, a new character played by Maria Bakalova, ask for an abortion after Tutar eats a plastic baby cupcake decoration. The dramatic irony in the scene left me roaring with laughter, yet the doctor’s anti-abortion responses made me boil with disgust.

Later in the film, Borat leads a group of far-right QAnon conspiracists in a sing-along with lyrics about killing President Barack Obama and Dr. Anthony Fauci. The scene is so absurd that I laughed at the stupidity of Borat. But as the QAnon supporters continued to sing along, I realized that many Americans actually wish death upon those people, and I became horrified.

Borat’s ability to infiltrate and expose these misguided ideas in everyday Americans is disgusting, hilarious and brilliant. Borat, despite his appearance as a joke, is one of the most creative political devices of the 21st century.

The movie uses this device to expose the far-right flank of American politics and casts their conspiracies as an immediate danger to stability of American life and democracy, calling on Americans to vote against President Trump and his ideals.

The message is especially powerful since the film is not a series of backwards individuals having fun; it is a call-to-action against the backwards individuals by revealing their threat to society.

Despite a strong anchoring message, “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” gets distracted with a father-daughter theme between Borat and Tutar. Bakalova is able to stand on her own and impressively matches Cohen’s comedic chops. The father-daughter theme, however, takes up too much time, distracting from the movie’s political statement and original purpose. The moments with Borat and Tutar are sweet and nice, but pale in comparison to the standard Borat fare.

“Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” is a fun movie with an important message, but contains multiple themes competing for screen time, preventing the movie from meeting the heights of its predecessor. The movie does a great job of portraying the dangers of enabling misguided opinions and is arguably the most memorable pro-voting statement from this election cycle. Unlike the 2006 film, “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” is not a must-watch, but if you’re particularly interested or have the time, give it a go. Borat’s vulgar antics might just coax a few laughs out of you.

 

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