Borat Subsequent Moviefilm ★★½

Baron Cohen’s method sometimes involves going into people’s spaces, but he’s also prone to constructing situations and seeing if people manifest their worst selves accordingly (or if he can at least freak them out). In one, Borat and his daughter attend a debutante cotillion, thereby inevitably catching middle-aged men saying creepy things—a small “gotcha” before an extended gross-out gag that didn’t land for me. One of the fathers at this event, Will Davis, describes how he got into this situation in an essay: “Our friends had been contacted by a movie company that wanted to film a fictional scene of Southern belles making their debut. The company would pay fathers and daughters $100 apiece, and all we had to do was dress up, dance a little and enjoy free cuisine and drinks at the beautiful antebellum Hay House in downtown Macon.” Davis is, notably, the publisher of the Monroe County Reporter and able to write whatever he wants in his own newspaper, whose values presumably reflect community standards. He concludes: “I have no real problem with Borat getting a laugh at our expense. I find some of his stuff pretty funny. I will laugh a lot harder if we get the last laugh on Nov. 3.” This makes me almost wonder if I’m underestimating Baron Cohen’s guile in getting people to keep digging long after he’s done with production—but, still, five minutes for a gross-out gag and a months-later local op-ed is a lot of low-return effort.

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