Very nice! To say the American public was eagerly anticipating the new sequel to the fantastic 2006 comedy Borat implies that people knew of its existence two weeks ago. However, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is still everything that the world of comedy and America in general needs right now. Anybody who is a fan of the original film will adore this new entry because it has much of the same zany and irreverent humor while doubling down on the political commentary. This is everything fans of the first would want in a sequel, and while it never quite rises to the same heights of its predecessor, it is still both a fantastic comedy to laugh away the pain of today and a close look at the political landscape of the United States.
In the 2006 film, Borat, played by mastermind Sacha Baron Cohen, was the number four journalist in all of Kazakhstan and respected in his country. Now because of the success of the first film, the country of Kazakhstan is a worldwide laughing stock and Borat is to blame. He is imprisoned and disgraced until the Kazakhstan government comes to him for a mission: deliver a famed monkey to the Trump administration in order to secure good foreign relations. This may sound ridiculous and odd, but the set-up is hardly the point of the film. When Borat arrives in America so he can complete his task, the movie then turns into a series of ridiculous pranks where Cohen as Borat is talking to real people in an unscripted fashion. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is essentially just an updated version of the 2006 film that deals with modern politics in a more direct manner than any other Cohen film. I describe the general plot above, but anyone who watches this movie will not be watching for the character development, they will just be watching to see what tricks Cohen has up his sleeve this time around.
To be honest, I wasn’t onboard with Cohen’s humor for the first 10 to 15 minutes of the film. His scripted material wasn’t too funny, and I was afraid that Cohen had lost his touch and run out of good ideas since the first Borat. However, as soon as he gets to America and starts talking to actual people in his Borat outfit, I realized my fears were unfounded. Cohen is still hilarious and still knows how to generate fantastic political commentary through ridiculousness and irreverence. This makes Borat Subsequent Moviefilm a gut-busting experience, and though it doesn’t have that lightning-in-a-bottle originality of the first, it will still satisfy anyone who appreciates the absurd sense of humor. This film is definitely not for everyone and it goes a bit too far at times, but anyone who is familiar with Cohen’s work knows that this is the point. When the film goes over the edge, it exposes the way people react to these hilarious and insane events, which then shows the true nature of the subjects. This is why Cohen is more than just a dumb prankster, because he takes his wild humor and aims it at serious issues while commenting on human nature.
Cohen adds two major changes to this new sequel — the first being the direct political commentary towards the Trump administration. In the previous Borat film, Cohen was exposing the ignorance and ethnocentrism that plagues much of America’s population, especially the rich, white citizens who are stuck in their own beliefs. At the time, much of America was clueless to the extremes of its own population, and Borat was a much needed wake-up-call regarding the true nature of this country. The genius of the first Borat was that it shined a mirror on our own communities and called out our personal biases. Cohen aims to do the same with the sequel, except he takes a different approach. Most of America is now well-aware of the ignorance in our country, but here he focuses on where and who it stems from: social media and the Trump administration. This film is a direct political hit, but if one subscribes to this type of humor and commentary then it more than succeeds.
The odd thing about Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is that throughout its criticism of America’s political landscape, it expresses positivity towards the everyday people of this country. Of all the people Cohen encounters throughout the movie, almost all of them are portrayed as good people, with the exception of some rich people and political leaders. Borat comes across a redneck man outside of a gun store and stays at his house, along with his friend, for days. These men are clearly die-hard Trump supporters and support conspiracy theories like QAnon and others, but the movie never implies they are the enemy or that they are anything other than gracious. They are hospitable and kind to anyone they encounter, but the rhetoric they read on social media, specifically Facebook, radicalizes them and plays to their inherent biases to make them think everything, including Coronavirus, is a hoax created by the Democrats. With this movie, Cohen isn’t trying to show audiences how terrible people in America are, but he is trying to show how the American public is easily influenced by corrupt leaders like Rudy Giuliani online and in person. The criticisms near the end of this film are to the elite, not to the common people.
The other major change Cohen makes to this sequel is the personal nature of Borat’s character: he gives him a daughter (Maria Bakalova). As a result, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm has much more heart than the first. Borat as a character realizes the worth of the women in his life as the film goes on, and he realizes how important and intelligent his daughter is. While we should not take the thoughts and opinions of Borat too seriously, Cohen goes out of his way to make his daughter an important part of the journey, which to me speaks volumes about the identity of this movie. Some may think this is just another way for Cohen to get his hilarious gags across, and while this is definitely true, I also think that Cohen has matured since the first film. Bakalova is a fantastic addition to this movie, and during some painfully funny sequences (a dance scene comes to mind) she even steals the spotlight from Cohen.
If you liked the first Borat, you’ll love this. Even though this review is too long, the public’s opinions on this film are as simple as that. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is missing some of the freshness and originality of the first and, frankly, it’s just not as funny. But this film has so much more to offer and the commentary on today’s political landscape is so timely that it is still one of the best comedies of the year and is an experience to remember. With this and The Trial of the Chicago 7, the month of October seems to be the month of Sacha Baron Cohen, and I can’t say I’m complaining. High-five!
I give Borat Subsequent Moviefilm an A-.