Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm ★★★

the biggest surprise about borat 2: electric boogaloo is that it’s funny, and not some 90-minute rehashing of everything that made its predecessor a proto-meme factory.

credit to cohen realizing he’d hit a wall with the character (his reentry into america, complete with unfaked scenes of strangers hounding borat for his autograph, feels like a tacit acknowledgement of this limitation) and pivoting the focus to the wonderful maria bakalova. as borat’s daughter tutar, she taps into the same deadpan absurdism as cohen. she also gives the movie something more unexpected: a soul. it’s a little (stress little) moving watching tutar discover her independence in the middle of an otherwise crass grossout comedy.

yet something about the film gives me pause. cohen’s shtick normally relies on how borat’s insane approach to culture reveals the worst in the unsuspecting marks around him. however, as he gooses plastic surgeons and politicians into endorsing child molestation or gets qanon lunatics to cheer on the saudi-style massacre of journalists, i didn’t feel like he was exposing monsters and fiends. rather, he was activating them; you wonder if people like cohen, good intentions and all, weren’t slightly responsible for these maniacs ultimately storming the capitol.

is satire dead? it might be