Some will stream the new Borat sequel, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, to see for themselves whether former New York City mayor and current Trump crony Rudy Giuliani really did touch himself inappropriately — err, tucked in his shirt, rather — in front of a 24-year-old actress, playing a 15-year-old girl, whom Giuliani allegedly believed to be a journalist.
Eagle-eyed Eugene residents, on the other hand, spotted some familiar scenery while watching the film on opening night.
While it goes by quickly, one clip shows Borat standing in an empty intersection at what appears to be the corner of 10th Avenue and Willamette Street downtown. Otherwise, footage from Eugene is included in a montage with what could be Olympia, Washington.
The montage illustrates how the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown turned many American cities into ghost towns. While being somewhat sleepy is often leveraged as a criticism of downtown Eugene, in this context, it’s a bit of a flex.
It’s unclear whether anyone knew the film crew would be in Eugene in advance, or whether they applied for any film permits. Eugene’s Cultural Services Division did not respond to a request for comment.
What’s certain, though, is that proceeding without permission is pretty on-brand for the Borat character, the creation of British actor, comedian and social-satirist Sacha Baron Cohen. Borat is known for gotcha-pranks, guerrilla filmmaking and physical comedy, something like Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp character in the age of cell phones and social media.
For her part, Eugene mayor Lucy Vinis is just as surprised as anyone else that Borat visited town, and she’s glad the film casts Eugene’s COVID response in a positive light.
“I am proud of our community’s response to COVID,” Vinis tells Eugene Weekly in an email. At the time of her email, Mayor Vinis had not yet seen the movie. “Most people are following guidelines to wear masks and respect physical distancing. A film that supports greater adherence to those guidelines is helpful to us all,” she writes.
As far as EW’s concerned, Borat’s making an appearance in Eugene is, to borrow one of the fictional character’s signature catchphrases, “Very nice!”
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is streaming now on Amazon Prime.