A few quick words on “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (2020)

If you want to debate the ethics of Sacha Baron Cohen’s prank-driven comedy, maybe there’s a conversation to be had.  The people subjected to his “Candid-Camera”-meets-“Jackass,” politically charged, ambush-style comedy are typically very unhappy about it.  And I realize that Cohen (like any one else) should not be immune to criticism.

But the man’s work is damned hilarious; you can’t argue with that.  Like 2006’s “Borat,” this new film made me laugh out loud repeatedly (even if I cringed at times too).  “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is simply a first-rate comedy; I’d rate it a 10 out of 10.

This is due largely to Cohen’s twofold genius.  First, he succeeds in creating a truly funny fictional character that could easily make us laugh in a scripted TV sitcom, or a “Saturday Night Live” sketch.  Second, Cohen again demonstrates his mind-boggling ability to gain the trust of his targets — and then manages to stay in character throughout the elaborate pranks.  (If you think about it, it’s probably tougher than we might realize.  There can’t be any second takes for what we see unfolding before us onscreen.)

A movie like this easily might have suffered from the addition of a second comedian who isn’t as funny as Cohen.  But newcomer Maria Bakalova hits it out of the park.  (She plays the fictional daughter of Cohen’s titular bumbling foreigner.)  She is nearly as funny (and just as good at keeping character) as he is.  With Sacha Baron Cohen, that’s saying a lot.

Again, some of what you see in this film will be cringe-inducing.  But it’s damned funny stuff.

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