After the critical success of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm – the sometimes brilliant, sometimes misfiring sequel to 2006’s superior Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – its arch-prankster Sasha Baron Cohen vowed he would never revive the fictitious Kazakhstani journalist on the grounds of personal safety. At least, so we thought. Several months later, after scooping multiple awards from the 78th Golden Globe Awards, it would appear there is still to more to come from the franchise, with Cohen now releasing a multi-part compendium of outtakes and unseen material from the sequel.
Cohen’s first entry is Borat: VHS Cassette of Material Deemed “Sub-acceptable” By Kazakhstan Ministry of Censorship and Circumcision, a roughly-sewn patchwork of unfunny scenes that hadn’t made the final cut – apparently they are worth seeing now. Borat’s American Lockdown follows, returning to his brief interim cooped up with conspiracy-nuts Jim and Jerry from the sequel. Unfortunately, these interactions had never convinced me they were real or unscripted, and seeing the trio scheme about how to kidnap Borat’s missing daughter, Tutar (Maria Bakalova), is again neither credible nor entertaining.
The final instalment is a series of bite-size chunks under the umbrella of Debunking Borat, with each episode reviewing one of Jim and Jerry’s manifold conspiracy beliefs (“Mail-in Ballots Scam,” “Hillary Clinton & Blood Libel” …). Over videocalls with various academics and experts, attempts are made to persuade them to believe otherwise – albeit to varying degrees of success. What dialogue there is between these two parties is minimal, and each episode ends with Jim and Jerry more or less steadfast in their beliefs, chuckling at the exercise.
If Borat Subsequent Moviefilm failed to make any real or sustained impact – with the notable exception of ridiculing Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani – then Borat Supplemental Reportings Retrieved from Floor of Stable Containing Editing Machine makes even less of an impression.
Cohen has sharpened his satirical blade over the years with many cartoonish characters, and Borat, what might have been his most successful role, has now been blunted beyond recognition. And whilst Cohen’s ambitions for drawing out the racism and misogyny from everyday U.S. society are noble, it is often secondary to the personality and quirks of Borat himself, whose queasy, ribald antics (performed mostly for laughter) often distract the film from its political message.
The offcuts and trimmings in Borat Supplemental Reportings Retrieved from Floor of Stable Containing Editing Machine are not worth your time.
Borat Supplemental Reportings Retrieved from Floor of Stable Containing Editing Machine is streaming on Amazon Prime.
Directors: Kahane Cooperman, Jason Woliner
Stars: Sacha Baron Cohen
Runtime: 24 minutes, 40 minutes, 45 minutes