Borat has a new mission: Make Americans better.
At least that’s the takeaway from “Borat Supplemental Reportings Retrieved from Floor of Stable Containing Editing Machine,” a three-part set of follow-ups to last year’s hilarious “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. It’s an ironic attitude for the new package of footage, because no matter how gross or obtuse Sacha Baron Cohen’s fake Kazakhstani reporter and his semi-feral daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova) act around unsuspecting real folks, our people prove again and again that we’re an incredibly patient and tolerant bunch here in the U.S.A.
The 24-minute segment titled “Borat: VHS Cassette of Material Deemed ‘Sub-acceptable’ by Kazakhstan Ministry of Censorship and Circumcision” strings together outtakes from “Subsequent Moviefilm” with mildly clever, post-presidential-election commentary. (Don’t worry, Rudy Giuliani doesn’t make a return appearance, though Borat does apologize for punking him in last fall’s movie and offers up his sister to make amends.)
Some of the footage should have remained unused, like the golf lesson Cohen wrecks with lame physical comedy. But the dirtier the jokes, the more uproarious the bits get. A matronly etiquette teacher proves quite adept at the sexy talk, and a Kazakh fairy-tale cartoon “for girls” called “Melania” deftly marries politics and smut, though it’s not something anyone would want their children to see.
For the longest segment, “Borat’s American Lockdown” at just under 37 minutes, we return to the cabin where the character spent a few days during the COVID-19 pandemic with two QAnon-addled good old boys, Jim Russell and Jerry Holleman. I’ve been assured that the conspiracy-believing conservatives are really who they’re presented as, even though their screen presence and comic timing suggest they could be actors with truly prodigious gifts. Either way, as nutty, gullible and intolerant as they often appear, Russell and Holleman prove surprisingly liberal when confronted with Borat’s more extreme pronouncements, especially regarding women. They also seem to take Cohen’s most disgusting (and, it must be said, brilliant) gags in stride.
Things take an instructive, serious turn in “Debunking Borat,” a series of six 6-minute videoconference encounters in which Russell and Holleman meet experts and academics who try to disabuse them of their faith in such nonsense as vaccines having microchips and Hillary Clinton drinking the blood of children. The bumpkins come off more open-minded and less racist than we’d thought they were in these generally polite exchanges. Cohen introduces each segment in his real, English voice, so we know that they’re supposed to be important learning experiences about all the stupid stuff he’d made fun of earlier.
Russell has the last word, though, and it’s subversive, appalling and just the right bit of humor to close this ragged mix of political satire and brand extension. If the last Borat movie left one feeling ashamed to be American, this mostly entertaining mess … well, it won’t exactly make you proud, but it could make you want to smile more at fellow citizens, which means Borat’s work is done here.
M“Borat Supplemental Reportings Retrieved from Floor of Stable Containing Editing Machine”: Comedy/documentary. Starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Maria Bakalova. (“VHS” rated 18+; “Lockdown” and “Debunking” rated 16+. Three approximately half-hour segments.) Available to stream on Amazon Prime.
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