'Borat Subsequent Moviefilm': Redundant or well-timed?

'Borat Subsequent Moviefilm': Redundant or well-timed?

In 2006, he shocked the world with his scathing cultural satire of the United States in "Borat." 

Now British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is back with a mockumentary sequel that is garnering mixed reviews two weeks ahead of the US elections.

"Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," available on Amazon Prime from Friday, sees Baron Cohen back in character as racist, sexist Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev who once again travels to America.

This time, the plot revolves around his attempts to marry off his 15 year-old daughter to Vice President Mike Pence or, failing that, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York who is also known as President Donald Trump's personal lawyer.

Giuliani has been shown in a compromising position in a hotel room with a young woman acting as a television journalist in one scene.

While most of the reviews were positive, some found the movie tasteless.

"This joke isn't funny anymore," the Hollywood Reporter said, adding that "the Trump years make him (Borat) painfully redundant."

I’ve seen the Giuliani moment in Borat 2. It’s even wilder than it sounds. Beyond cringe.

US President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani has once again made headlines by claiming the "truth isn't the truth" in a TV interview pic.twitter.com/BeXvFYGl7o

Alert: some spoilers

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who profiled Baron Cohen ahead of the movie's release, tweeted Wednesday about the scene: “It’s even wilder than it sounds. Beyond cringe.”

Variety said the film delivers a "consistent, coherent feature-length narrative, punctuated with outrageous, unpredictable set pieces."

Few of the film's pranks were revealed ahead of the release, but reviewers said they include Cohen gate-crashing a political conference dressed as Trump, a coronavirus quarantine stay with supporters of QAnon conspiracy theories, and visits to an abortion clinic and a debutante ball.

While most of the reviews were positive, some found the movie tasteless.

"This joke isn't funny anymore," the Hollywood Reporter said, adding that "the Trump years make him (Borat) painfully redundant."

"My aim here was not to expose racism and anti-Semitism," Cohen told the New York Times last weekend in his only major print interview around the film. 

"The aim is to make people laugh, but we reveal the dangerous slide to authoritarianism."

Cohen said he wanted the movie released before the November 3 election because "we wanted it to be a reminder to women of who they're voting for — or who they're not voting for."

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Guiliani's real-life cameo?

The scene shot in a New York hotel room in July, which resulted in Giuliani calling the police, includes a moment when Giuliani is seen lying on a bed, tucking in his shirt with his hand down his pants and the young woman nearby.

Giuliani went to the hotel room thinking he was being interviewed about the Trump administration's Covid-19 response. The young woman is flirtatious with him and invites him to the bedroom, which is rigged with hidden cameras.

Giuliani then asks for her phone number and address. He lies back on the bed to tuck in his shirt after she helps remove his recording equipment, and he has his hands in his pants when Baron Cohen rushes in wearing an outlandish outfit.

Baron Cohen, who was disguised as part of the crew, screams that the young woman is 15 years old. Up to that point, there is no indication she is underage. The character, who is Borat's daughter, is played by Maria Bakalova, who is listed as 24 years old on the Internet Movie Database site, IMDb.com.

Just a 'shirt tuck'

Speaking on his weekly radio program on WABC on Wednesday afternoon, Giuliani called the scene “a hit job”.

“I am tucking my shirt in, I assure you, that’s all that I was doing,” he said. 

He said he realised he was being set up when the woman asked whether he wanted a massage.

“At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate,” Giuliani tweeted. “If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise, he is a stone-cold liar.

The former New York City mayor called police after that encounter, but there is no indication an investigation was launched. Giuliani spoke to the New York Post's Page Six column about the encounter in July but did not mention the bedroom aspect.

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The closest Borat gets to Pence is the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he shouts to the VP that he’s brought a woman for him. Dressed in a Donald Trump costume and with Borat’s daughter, played by Bakalova, slung over his shoulder, Baron Cohen is swiftly escorted out by security.

That leads to a second scheme involving Giuliani that ends up in the hotel room scene.

Baron Cohen has made a history of poking fun at conservative figures. 

For his 2018 Showtime series “Who Is America”, the British comedian got former Vice President Dick Cheney to sign a waterboarding kit. 

A sketch with former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore involved the comedian administering a “pedophile test.” Moore has sued over the encounter.

READ MORE: Hollywood Foreign Press Assoc gives out $5.1 million in grants

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