‘Borat 2’: Why That Surprise Cameo Is One of the Film’s Wildest Moments
[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.]
In a film deliberately designed to shock you with the things people will say on camera if they believe they’re talking to a Kazakhstanian journalist, one of the most shocking moments of the Sacha Baron Cohen-starring Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan has nothing to do with Rudy Giuliani. Instead, it’s the fact that they got Tom Hanks.
It almost gets lost, sandwiched as it is between all the hilarity, but the big final twist of Borat 2 features Borat (Cohen) and his daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova) discovering that the coronavirus pandemic was a secret plot spearheaded by the Kazakhstan government, which used Borat to spread the virus around the world. Key to this flashback sequence is a quick cameo (blatantly filmed against a green screen) in which an awkward Tom Hanks, as himself, agrees to autograph something for Borat while a COVID-infected Borat coughs all over him.
The basic premise of the twist — that the hell so many of us have been living in is the result of a goofy conspiracy plot — is a lot to process, and the degree to which Hanks is in on the joke is unclear (one would assume that he at least knows who Sacha Baron Cohen is, since they’ve both been to the same awards show more than once).
What stands out about the moment is the significance that Tom Hanks has in the history of America’s struggle with the pandemic — if it’s hard to remember last week, let alone last March, then let me remind you that for a lot of people, Tom Hanks revealing that he and wife Rita Wilson had tested positive and were undergoing treatment for the coronavirus was the moment when COVID felt truly real, and scary. Up until March 12, the threat was definitely a growing reality, with mounting cases around the world, cruise ships stranded outside ports, and the NBA on the verge of shutdown. But goddamn it, we cried out at the time, not Tom Hanks.
Even as America’s internal infection numbers began to skyrocket, we found faith in Hanks’ recovery. Hanks has since become a sort of hero figure, hosting the first at-home edition of SNL following his recovery — during which he admitted that he didn’t want to be “the celebrity canary in the coal mine” and that he was “more like America’s dad than ever before.”
Borat 2 was always going to push the boundaries of taste when it came to comedy, but not only did it poke fun at the pandemic, it brought a sainted figure into it. Tom Hanks might have been making a bit of a joke about being America’s Dad… but it honestly wasn’t that big a joke, and his participation in the film gives the final moments an unusual sort of heft.
The more I think about it, the less funny I find it, to be honest. It all depends on how much humor you’re able to find in our current situation, and whether you’re ready to make jokes about how we got here. That said, Tom Hanks seems to find it funny. And who am I to second-guess America’s Dad?
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is streaming now on Amazon.
Source : Liz Shannon Miller Link