November 01, 2020

Movie Review Again


I saw Borat 2 recently and I'm trying to figure out how I feel about it...

In general I'm a big Sacha Baron Cohen fan. Of his other projects, Borat 2 feels the most like Bruno in that it's often funny but also feels strained and padded, which might be unavoidable in any post-Borat SBC mockumentary. The scripted scenes were fine, but it often seemed like the real-world set-ups didn't generate as much as they were hoping comedically, and had to be over-edited to compensate.

I got the sense that most of the real-world people were at least partly in on the joke, and just playing along because they didn't care or felt trapped. Most of them didn't do anything too shocking, they were just quietly polite and seemed uncomfortable. They didn't give the same kind of embarrassingly big reactions as in the earlier Borat stuff. Maybe that's not just because people know Borat, but because it's 2020 and people are so much more aware of being on-camera, going viral, winding up in a cringe compilation or whatever.

In a different kind of movie, the non-actors being in on the joke would be fine, but here it almost makes the whole thing feel pointless. I guess that's the central issue - the goal of Borat is to fool people into thinking he's real, so what do you do when everybody knows he isn't? The solution, to have him put on diguises, talk in different voices, and introduce a daughter character to take his place, kind of worked but it was hard not to be aware of how little we actually saw of "regular" Borat on-screen. You get the sense that the character works against what they're trying to do, but of course if he's not doing Borat then there's no real distinction from any other person-on-the-street interviews.

In general I was constantly thinking about how hard it must've been to make the film, which is not really what you want to be thinking about as a viewer. In that sense it's impressive that they were even able to cobble together a film that leaves you reasonably satisfied. It must've seemed impossible to make a Borat sequel, until they actually did it.

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