Kelly Cringe-Laughs Through Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)!

Rating: B

Summary: Borat must win over Vice Premiere Mikhail Pence in the name of Kazakhstan.

It’s been such a year that- and I must stress- this is not a movie I would normally go out of my way for or see on opening weekend, but I needed to see some trolling. Trolling of the patriarchy, trolling of the pandemic’s non-believers, trolling of the far-right, trolling of some boys who are proud, trolling of influencers. I think everyone and anyone who pissed me off this year or made me eat my feelings was trolled in this movie. I haven’t really followed Sacha Baron Cohen all that much, but there is that rumor that most of his budget doesn’t go to the production, but rather to legal fees for the people he pisses off, the filming that happens without permits, and some really great lawyers. I knew Cohen wasn’t going to let me down. And I… think I had a good time? I mean, I laughed a lot but after each one, I had a lot of thoughts:

  • Oh no, our country is really like this.
  • That is a real person really saying those things.
  • That’s a real sign.
  • This is a real rally.
  • That’s a “doctor” for some real people.
  • They really said that.
  • That’s a real Guiliani.

There are certain demographics of viewers that will most likely turn this off after the first 15 minutes are so, or those who claim that humor is better when it’s not political, or that Cohen should “shut up and stick to comedy”- and those who do are the people who miss the point and think Brent Terhune’s Twitter is real. This isn’t claiming to be a documentary or investigative- it’s attempting to find the humor and present comedy. And whether that’s exposing Guiliani as a gross old man, or showing the copy machine store employee as a sweet hearted, client service based business, or presenting the Macon Purity Ball as completely outdated and- yup, racist-, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm hits a lot of the marks. It’s definitely the kind of work that if you lean towards the left, chances are you’ll enjoy this- and with that said, this is the kind of thing that tends to drive people to the other side. It’s a blend of absurdist humor at the expense of some very serious people and pretty serious issues.

Aside from my initial laughs and cringes, there’s something very sweet- and very American- about Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, mostly due to the introduction of his daughter and how they are brought out of their traditional beliefs to accept and support each other. Maria Bakalova and Cohen compliment each other with some well timed improv. And while I don’t think this will do anything for much needed civil discourse, it’s kind of a perfect exclamation point to the “What the fuck?” nature of 2020. I don’t know how this will age for others, but I can see myself in 2025, 2030 (if we get there), thinking back at 2020, and then watching this movie with fond memories of quarantine, DIY projects, and painstakingly checking my voter registration. Especially if the future is even more of a shitshow, 2020 will evoke that kind of “Ah, those were the days” nostalgia.


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