“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” – “This film is unsuitable for children under the age of 3.” – Four by Two Films
The aforementioned, extremely valid warning appears just before the opening credits to “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” – which, naturally, is a follow-up to director Larry Charles’ megahit “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” (2006).
After watching this wild, distasteful, uncomfortable, no-holds-barred comedy, this critic can think of many friends, family, and acquaintances of all ages who would find it inappropriate too. Then again, many others in my Rolodex will champion director Jason Woliner’s flick and then beg for another film in 2021, instead of waiting 14 more years for a third Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) feature.
Yes, Borat – the enthusiastic, America-admiring, sexist, anti-Semitic, Kazakhstani journalist – is back – as well as mentions of gypsy tears, potassium, and much more – in a worthy sequel that reflects a new time in Kazakhstan and the U.S. and A.
Since the events of Borat’s distinctive American reportings in 2006, his home country “has become a laughing stock around the world”, and Kazakhstanis have turned on our favorite Central Asian reporter. He’s become a pariah.
What? You joke?
Well, after several years of punishment (that will not be specifically revealed in this review), Borat finally catches a break, as Premier Nazarbayev sends him on a mission back to the States to deliver a gift to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. The plan is to refurbish Kazakhstan’s standing with the community of nations. Thankfully – and as one would expect – this opportunity allows Borat to bump into everyday Americans and hopefully a powerful one or two over 90 chaotic minutes.
Cohen proudly struts his legendary “Candid Camera” shtick, as his bumbling, 6’ 3” inch alter ego offers his offensive, limited world-view to various Americans who are too polite to correct his many declarations, such as women belong in cages and that COVID-19 is a “liberal hoax.” To be more accurate, these unsuspecting folks are either too good-mannered to retort, or they silently agree, and in a couple of key moments, they boisterously approve. It’s all done for comedic effect, and in most cases, Cohen connects, and Borat fans will rejoice, belly laugh, and shed tears of joy.
Cohen enthusiasts and innocent movie bystanders might voice concerns as well. It’s 2020, and the coronavirus – as we all painfully know – has gripped the U.S., and our hero dives into one-on-one encounters sans a mask. One assumes that Cohen and his team addressed suitable safety precautions, but then again, that’s the unexplained magic of this British comic savant: How does he do it?
The first Borat film raked in 232 million dollars worldwide at the box office – and who knows how much in DVD and streaming sales – but Cohen somehow finds random bystanders who don’t know his famous character and then fall for his con while the camera rolls. In most cases, however, SBC invents various disguises to fool his victims, err…willing participants.
This time around, Cohen introduces an additional wrinkle: a new, on-screen contributor, Borat’s 15-year-old daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova), who tags along with her dad throughout the picture. Bakalova – a 24-year-old Bulgarian actress – is a refreshing addition, and she serves as an extension of her father’s obliviousness of modern times.
“It’s impossible for women to drive,” Tutar declares.
She also holds many tangential, oppressive beliefs that are not appropriate to disclose in a PG-rated movie review, but Bakalova relieves the pressure from Cohen to carry on his performance art for the entire film. Although fanatics may clamor for constant Borat screen time, Sacha Baron doesn’t wear out his welcome and wisely picks his spots.
Although in one particular case in the third act, Cohen crosses a line in a mortifying sequence with a prominent politician that will trigger PTSD-shivers from “Bruno” (2009) and former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul.
That moment – even for big Borat and Sacha Baron Cohen supporters – is a tough watch, and it rings as highly embarrassing rather than funny. Still, Cohen pushes boundaries, and that’s his jam as he spreads his unique comic perspective.
Please note, I haven’t mentioned one sketch throughout this review, and that’s by design. Why spoil the punchlines? Rest assured, although “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” doesn’t reach the heights of our misunderstood protagonist’s first picture, it’s a good success.
⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Image credits: Amazon; Trailer credits: