Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Baron Cohen as Borat in a speedo in the style of a surgical mask, smiling and giving thumbs up. Text surrounding him says "WEAR MASK. / SAVE LIVE.".
Promotional release poster
Directed byJason Woliner
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Sacha Baron Cohen
  • Anthony Hines
  • Nina Pedrad
  • Dan Swimer
Based onBorat Sagdiyev
by Sacha Baron Cohen
Starring
Music by
CinematographyLuke Geissbühler
Edited by
Production
company
  • Four by Two Films
  • Oak Springs Productions[2]
Distributed byAmazon Studios
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • October 23, 2020 (2020-10-23)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish[a]
Budget$10–20 million[4]

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan[b] is a 2020 American mockumentary comedy film directed by Jason Woliner in his feature directorial debut. The film stars Sacha Baron Cohen as the fictional Kazakh journalist and television personality Borat Sagdiyev, and Maria Bakalova as his daughter Tutar, who is to be offered as a bride to Vice President Mike Pence during the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 presidential election. It is a sequel to 2006's Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

Although Baron Cohen had said in 2007 that he had retired the Borat character, he was spotted in 2019 in the disguise, and was seen filming in mid-2020, leading to speculation of a second Borat film. The project was officially announced in September 2020, with Amazon Studios acquiring the distribution rights. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm was released on October 23, 2020, on Prime Video. It received praise from critics for Baron Cohen and Bakalova's performances, as well as the commentary on American culture.

Plot

Borat humiliates Kazakhstan, causing journalist Borat Sagdiyev to be imprisoned in a gulag for life. Fourteen years later, the country's Premier Nursultan Nazarbayev releases him, with a mission to deliver Kazakh Minister of Culture Johnny the Monkey to President Donald Trump in an attempt to redeem the nation. Unable to get close to Trump after defecating in the landscaping of Trump International Hotel and Tower in the previous film, Borat opts to give the monkey to Vice President Mike Pence. Before he leaves, he discovers his arch nemesis neighbor has stolen his family and home, and that he has a fifteen-year-old daughter, Tutar, who lives in his barn.

Borat is transported across the world in a circuitous route by cargo ship and arrives in Texas, where he finds he is a celebrity. Wanting to maintain a low profile, Borat purchases multiple disguises. He buys a cell phone and goes to welcome Johnny, but finds that Tutar is in Johnny's shipping crate and has eaten him. Horrified, Borat faxes Nazarbayev, who tells him to find a way to satisfy Pence or he will be executed. Borat decides to give Tutar to Pence.

Tutar receives a makeover and Borat introduces her at a debutante ball. At the ball, her menstrual blood is prominently displayed during a father and daughter dance. Discovering that Pence is nearby at CPAC, Borat disguises himself as Trump and attempts to give Tutar to him there, but is ejected by security. Nazarbayev tells him to return to Kazakhstan for execution. Realizing that he can still give Tutar to someone close to Trump, Tutar suggests Rudy Giuliani and Nazarbayev agrees.

While eating a cupcake that her father fed to her, Tutar swallows a small plastic baby. Her father takes her to a women's clinic to have the baby taken out. When Borat explains that he is her father, and he put a baby in her that they want to take out, the advisor says that God has put it there, and it is a living, breathing creature and they can't take it out. When Borat further explains that he is her father, and he wanted to give her pleasure, the man says what happened happened and here we are now and he doesn't need to know more.

In another scene, Borat asks a hardware store employee how many Gypsies he can kill with a canister of propane if he puts them all in a van. The man replies as many as you want. Borat says, 20? The man says yes. He proceeds to buy a shovel and the canister and the man asks him no further questions.

Giuliani had bragged about having an affair with a large-breasted woman, so Borat suggests that Tutar get cosmetic surgery and breast implants. He briefly leaves Tutar with a babysitter who is confused by Borat's sexist teachings, and the fact that he gives her water in a dog's bowl, and locks her up with a ball and chain; she informs Tutar that the things her culture has taught her are lies. After seeing a woman driving a car, and after she successfully masturbates for the first time, and because of her babysitter's sage words that she is beautiful just as she is, Tutar decides not to get the surgery and lashes out at Borat for keeping her oppressed her whole life. Before leaving, she tells him the Holocaust is a lie by citing a Holocaust denial Facebook page.

Shaken, Borat decides to commit suicide by going to the nearest synagogue while dressing like his version of a stereotypical Jew, but is shocked to find Holocaust survivors there who treat him with kindness, and to his anti-Semitic delight, reassure him that the Holocaust happened. Overjoyed, Borat goes looking for Tutar, but finds the streets deserted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He quarantines with two Q-anon men in cabin and starts to search for his daughter online. The men tell Borat that Hillary Clinton drinks children's blood, and that that excites her. They also say that China created Covid in a lab and deliberately spread it around the world, and that bats and pangolins had nothing to do with it. The men find Tutar, who has, at age 15, fulfilled her dream and become a journalist. Horrified, Borat sees that Tutar has become a feminist and will be covering a March for Our Rights rally in Olympia, Washington.

At the rally, they find Tutar, and his Q Anon buddies tell her that her father will be killed if he does not give her to Giuliani. She says she won't speak to her father but she will seduce Giuliani to prevent her father from being killed. Tutar arranges and interview with Guiliani with her television station. Borat goes back to the babysitter to retrieve the ball and chain, and talks with her babysitter and has a change of heart, realizing that he loves Tutar. He also proposes to the babysitter, asking her to become "his Black wife." Tutars's interview goes well, and afterwards she proposes that they go to the bedroom and Giuliani agrees - almost as if he was expecting it. In the bedroom, Guiliani puts his hand on this 15-year-old girl's hip, lies on the bed, and proceeds to take his pants off. Borat walks in on them and Tutar flees. Should Guiliani be arrested for trying to have sex with a girl who he believed to be 15? After, Borat decides to face execution in Kazakhstan and Tutar promises to go with him.

Borat is shocked to find he will not be executed as he had instead been used as retaliation by Nazarbayev for making Kazakhstan a laughingstock. Before departing for the United States, Kazakhstan officials infected Borat with SARS-CoV-2 via an injection of "gypsy tears", making him patient zero of the COVID-19 pandemic. As he was sent around the world, he continued to spread the virus - starting in Wuhan and travelling to Australia where he is shown coughing on Tom Hanks. Borat records Nazarbayev's admission and sends it to the man who sold him his phone.

Borat and Tutar blackmail Nazarbayev into giving him his job back and changing Kazakhstan's misogynistic laws, turning the country instead into the world's first feminist nation. Three months later, Tutar and Borat are a reporting team and Kazakhstan has a new tradition to replace the nation's antisemitic ones: the Running of the American. It features exaggerated versions of Trump supporters pretending to spread COVID-19 and kill an effigy of Anthony Fauci.

Cast

  • Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat Margaret Sagdiyev, a Kazakh news reporter who has achieved international fame and notoriety after the release of Borat, and who has been imprisoned in Kazakhstan for the past 14 years for being perceived to have brought shame to the country.[5]
  • Maria Bakalova as Tutar Sagdiyev, Borat's teenage daughter. Bakalova was initially credited as Irina Nowak but later reports revealed Bakalova's involvement.[6][7]
  • Dani Popescu as Premier Nursultan Nazarbayev, a fictionalized version of Kazakhstan's leader of the same name.[8][9][10]
  • Tom Hanks as himself
  • Manuel Vieru as Dr. Yamak (Gypsy Tears), who infects Borat with COVID-19, making him patient zero in the pandemic
  • Miroslav Tolj as Nursultan Tulyakbay, Borat's hated neighbor who steals his family and property while Borat is in prison
  • Alin Popa as HueyLewis / Jeffrey Epstein Sagdiyev, Borat's son. Popa replaced Stonie from the first film.
  • Ion Gheorghe as Bilak Sagdiyev, Borat's son
  • Nicolae Gheorghe as Biram Sagdiyev, Borat's son
  • Marcela Codrea as a Kuczek villager
  • Luca Nelu as a Kuczek villager
  • Nicoleta Ciobanu as Babuska
  • Rita Wilson as herself
  • Jason Woliner as a bystander in Australia[11]

Mike Pence and Rudy Giuliani appear as themselves without their permission. Bystanders included in the film include salesman Brian Patrick Snyder, Instagram influencer and entertainer Macy Chanel,[12] crisis pregnancy center owner Pastor Jonathan Bright, debutante coach Dr. Jean Sheffield, Dallas-based plastic surgeon and naval reservist Charles Wallace,[13][11] professional babysitter Jeanise Jones, Wooten's Barbershop (Eatonton, Georgia) patron Alan "Randy" Knight, the Hillsborough Republican Women's Club, and QAnon believers Jerry Holleman and Jim Russell, and Holocaust survivor Judith Dim Evans.[8] The character of Johnny the Monkey—a porn star and Kazakhstani government minister—was given a fictionalized backstory as a famous monkey actor.[11]

Sid Miller, Donald Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. were originally in the film, but their scenes were cut.[14][15] Comedian Luenell was filmed as the character Luenell, the prostitute who marries Borat at the end of the first film, but her scenes were cut.[16] Joey Gibson's voice is heard at the rally, with his face blurred,[17] and Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau, Rodrigo Duterte, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-Un, Jair Bolsonaro, and Kanye West also make brief cameos via photographs near the beginning of the film.

Production

Baron Cohen giving a thumbs up, dressed as Borat
Sacha Baron Cohen in character as Borat, at the Cologne premiere of the first film in 2006. Baron Cohen was initially hesitant to make a sequel, killing off his character in 2007 and only resurrecting him in 2018 for voting ads.

Development

Rupert Murdoch announced in early February 2007 that Baron Cohen had signed on to do another Borat film with 20th Century Fox, distributor of the first film.[18] Baron Cohen later claimed that Borat was to be discontinued, as he was now too well known to avoid detection as he did in the film and on Da Ali G Show.[19] A spokesman for Fox later stated that it was too early to begin planning such a film, although they were open to the idea.[20] In 2014, he brought back Borat for the FXX series Ali G: Rezurection, a compilation of the sketches from Da Ali G Show with new footage.[21] He also briefly appeared as Borat in December 2015 on an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! to promote the film Grimsby[22] and again in November 2018 to encourage Americans to vote in that year's midterm elections.[23] In the two years leading up to the release, the film's star became more concerned about being politically active, giving speeches and interviews in-person to combat racism; he insisted on releasing the film immediately before the 2020 presidential election to provoke alarm among Americans about a slide into illiberal democracy.[1]

Like several of Sacha Baron Cohen's films, the score is composed by his brother Erran Baron Cohen, with other original recordings including Canadian roots musician Adrian Raso performing "Urn St. Taven"[24] and a cover of "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" by Russian electronic music act Little Big.

Filming

Pence smiling and waving
Mike Pence at the 2020 American Conservative Union CPAC, shortly before Baron Cohen interrupted his speech.

Filming did not begin until Tutar was cast; Bakalova was chosen for the role among 600 actresses who auditioned.[25] An early prank filmed in late 2019 involved a farcical interview with Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller,[14] followed by a trip to an Arlington, Texas driving range;[26] the scenes were cut from the film but appear in the trailer.[27] In February 2020, Baron Cohen was spotted dressed up as Donald Trump, interrupting the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), although his true identity was not revealed at the time.[28][29][30]

That same month, Baron Cohen traveled to Macon, Georgia, to trick attendees of a fake debutante ball,[31] telling the organizers at the Johnston–Felton–Hay House that he was filming a coming-of-age story.[32] He was briefly pulled over by a police officer for having Bakalova riding on the roof of his vehicle.[33] The crew also attended Marietta-based Temple Kol Emeth to film the scenes with Evans.[11] The production made at least two visits to upstate South Carolina to film at a bakery, crisis pregnancy center, and Halloween supply store.[34] In late June 2020, Cohen performed pranks at a gun rally in Olympia, Washington,[35] leading attendees to sing along with racist lyrics to an original song,[36] and interviewed members of the crowd.[37] In early July 2020, Baron Cohen arranged a fake interview with Rudy Giuliani, only to burst in during the conversation wearing a pink bikini; Giuliani called the police.[38]

The following month, he was spotted in Los Angeles dressed as Borat and filming, leading to speculation from the public that Baron Cohen's next project was a Borat sequel.[39] On two days of filming Baron Cohen was required to wear a bulletproof vest due to the possible threats of the scene.[40]

In early September 2020, rumors began to circulate claiming that the film was completely shot, assembled, and screened for film industry executives;[41] the title was originally leaked as Borat 2: Great Success and then Borat: Gift of Pornographic Monkey to Vice Premiere Mikhael Pence to Make Benefit Recently Diminished Nation of Kazakhstan, where the latter was used as one of the title cards. On September 20, a prank involving Bakalova infiltrating the White House and being interviewed by Chanel Rion of One America News Network was filmed but cut from the final release.[42] The village sequences set in Kazakhstan were shot in Romania but not the same village as the previous film after negative feedback from the villagers. Romanian actors were hired for a few parts.[43]

Release

In September 2020, Amazon Studios acquired distribution rights to the film and scheduled it for an October 23 release.[44][40] Baron Cohen presented the movie to several distributors who were not willing to release it due to its political content.[1] The first trailer was released on October 1, 2020, confirming that several of Baron Cohen's pranks were shot for this film.[45]

Promotion and marketing

In the two weeks leading up to the film release, Amazon spent $20.4 million on marketing.[46]

Baron Cohen joined social media outlets Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter in-character as Borat to comment on American politics in the run-up to the election and promote the film release,[47] including congratulating Donald Trump for winning the first of the 2020 United States presidential debates before the event began[48] and starting a feud with Ariana Grande[49] for stealing a cut-out of Borat installed at a drive-in theater.[50] The social media push also involved a Twitch stream playing video games with DrLupo[51] and meeting YouTube influencers.[52] He also made a return to Jimmy Kimmel Live! in character a few days before the film's release.[53]

Amazon Prime UK promoted the film by projecting an image of Borat in an extremely small mankini resembling a face mask on the side of several historic sites in Scotland.[54] In Australia's Bondi Beach, 40 Borat lookalikes descended onto the sands to do a yoga class in the "maskini" gear, accompanied by a large statue.[55] During the second presidential debate, Baron Cohen hosted a watch party to debut the film in-character, followed by an afterparty made up of dance music and questions from fans via a live chat.[56] A further stunt involved a large inflatable Borat floating in a barge along a Toronto waterfront[57] and in front of London's Palace of Westminster.[58] The Cerne Abbas Giant was also defaced with a mask and the slogan "WEAR MASK. SAVE LIVE."[59]

Amazon additionally collaborated with YouTube pranksters to trick Stephen Bear, Jimmy Carr, Perrie Edwards, David Spade, David Walliams, and Ann Widdecombe into a false audition for a third Borat film, convincing them to act as a Kazakhstani ambassador.[60] The company also modified their Alexa service to give potato news from Borat.[61]

Reception

Critical response

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm was met with "generally favorable" reviews from critics at review aggregator Metacritic, with a weighted average score of 68 out of 100, based on 49 reviews.[62] The review consensus at Rotten Tomatoes for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm had 86% of critics recommending the film, based on 247 reviews and an average rating of 7.21 out of 10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm proves Sacha Baron Cohen's comedic creation remains a sharp tool for exposing the most misguided—or outright repugnant—corners of American culture."[63] Most publications said the film received generally positive reviews,[64][65][66][67] though the BBC and Reuters summed up the critical consensus as "mixed".[68][69]

Eric Kohn of IndieWire gave the film an A– and wrote: "Fourteen years after his last romp, Borat isn't exactly woke, but his time has come: This searing brand of humor has never felt more essential. Blending activism with entertainment, Baron Cohen's best movie to date gives us new reasons to be afraid of the world, but also permission to laugh at it."[70] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of four stars and wrote: "Fourteen years after Kazakhstan journalist Borat came to America to make a documentary about our great nation, he's back in the USA—older, dumber, far more famous and arguably even more politically incorrect and offensively funny than he was in 2006."[71]

In The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw gave the film three out of five stars, saying "there are still some real laughs and pointed political moments" but that it "overstays its welcome".[72] Jesse Hassenger of The A. V. Club gave the film a B– and called it "frequently funny and occasionally pointed" but "also another instance where doing things as they've always been done no longer feels like quite enough".[73] Similarly, Devika Girish of The New York Times notes how the sequel is not as shocking or insightful as the first film, summing up, "[the] elaborate ruses of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm left me neither entertained nor enraged, but simply resigned".[74] For The Daily Telegraph, Robbie Collin awarded the film two of five stars, calling the film "despairingly threadbare" and "a string of half-formed, recycled and disjointed pranks you suspect wouldn't have survived the quality-control process on the original, effortfully connected post hoc by largely uninspired scripted scenes."[75] Longtime Chicago Tribune film columnist Michael Philips gave the film two stars, calling the sequel "ruder" and "more sentimental" than its predecessor. Phillips summarized his reaction as having "laughed at a good deal of the movie, but a good deal more of it left [him] with (Cohen's [sic] intention, probably) the taste of ashes in the mouth".[76] Alonso Duralde of The Wrap negatively reviewed the movie, believing it "valiantly fails to resuscitate the satire corpse". Duralde, a self-avowed "superfan" of the first film, writes that "the sequel might (in, one hopes, a happier future) be hilarious in retrospect, but at the moment, it's a mostly cringe-worthy experience".[77]

Controversy

Giuliani with his arms outstretched, standing a podium with a banner for the Trump/Pence ticket
The actions of President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani in the film incited controversy.

The film's creators were sued for fraud after including an interview with Holocaust survivor Judith Dim Evans. Evans died before the film's release, but her heirs brought the lawsuit alleging that she did not consent to the commercial use of her likeness in the film.[78][2] Baron Cohen—who dedicated the film to her memory—claimed that he broke character to reveal to Evans that the piece was a bit to reduce her concern about the anti-Semitic comments that Borat makes.[79] The lawsuit was dismissed on October 26.[80]

The New York Post reported that babysitter Jeanise Jones felt "betrayed" by the filmmakers who told her that she was going to be in a documentary about a young woman being groomed to marry an older man.[81] She later disputed that statement, saying that she was not angry at the filmmakers,[82] but she wished she were paid more than the $3,600 she received to appear in the film.[83] A GoFundMe campaign started by Jones' pastor raised over $50,000 for her in three days[84] and more than $150,000 by the end of the week.[85][86] Baron Cohen donated $100,000 to her community of Oklahoma City, with funds disbursed by her church.[87]

Rudy Giuliani was criticized for his actions in a scene in which he puts his hand into his trousers in front of actress Maria Bakalova, who is impersonating a journalist. Following an interview in a hotel room, the pair retreat to the bedroom, while drinking alcohol, where Giuliani requests Bakalova's address and phone number before Bakalova removes Giuliani's microphone, untucking his shirt in the process. Giuliani proceeds to lie back on the bed and place his hand in his pants. Baron Cohen then bursts into the room exclaiming "She 15. She too old for you."[72][88] Giuliani denied allegations of impropriety, claiming that the allegations were a smear for Giuliani's Hunter Biden email controversy despite the scene having been filmed months before the controversy occurred.[89] Controversy over what happened in the scene led Baron Cohen to record a brief clip as Borat regarding Giuliani.[90] In an out-of-character interview on Good Morning America, Baron Cohen stood by the scene, remarking, "It is what it is. He did what he did."[91] While on the campaign trail, Donald Trump called Baron Cohen an "unfunny" "creep";[92] Baron Cohen subsequently thanked him for the free publicity, saying that he did not find President Trump funny either.[93] The debate followed Giuliani in subsequent media appearances, such as when Fox News anchor Kennedy confronted him about the scene as well as the veracity of the Biden emails.[94]

The character of Borat has been controversial in Kazakhstan,[95] with the original film being censored for a period and Baron Cohen's website blocked in the country. In the lead-up to the film, Kazakhstanis took to Twitter with the hashtag #CancelBorat.[96] An online petition urging the film to be canceled garnered over 100,000 signatures and small protests gathered in front of the American embassy in Almaty the day of the premiere.[97] Kazakhs and Westerners alike renewed criticism that the character uses comedy to "punch down" by picking on the more marginalized Kazakhs by arbitrarily mocking their accents and stereotyping them[98] and the Kazakh American Association issued a letter alleging that the film promotes "racism, cultural appropriation, and xenophobia".[99] The character has created misperceptions of Kazakhstan.[100] Nevertheless, the national tourism agency Kazakh Tourism capitalized on the renewed international attention the film brought by adopting Borat's catchphrase as its slogan—Kazakhstan. Very Nice!—and produced a number of videos featuring it.[101]

Viewership

Amazon, Inc. declined to give precise numbers for the amount of viewers but claimed that it was "tens of millions" globally during the first weekend, while estimates by Samba TV put the number of American viewers at 1.6 million, including 45,000 during the October 22 preview; Amazon claims these numbers are inaccurate.[4]

Notes

  1. ^ Although the primary language is English, Hebrew, Bulgarian, and Romanian are spoken. Credits and titles are written in Russian.[3]
  2. ^ Initially titled onscreen as Borat Gift of Sexy Monkey to Vice Premier Mikhael Pence for Make Benefit Recently Diminished Nation of Kazakhstan, and later as Borat Gift of Daughter to Mikhael Pence for Make Benefit Diminished Nation of Kazakhstan and finally as Borat Delivery of Sexy Gift to Rudy Giuliani in Last-Ditch Attempt to Save Borat from Execution and Make Benefit Diminished Nation of Kazakhstan, as the titular character's plans change. The official full title is shown during the end credits.

See also

References

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