Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, 2020.
Directed by Jacob Woliner.
Starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Maria Bakalova.
Follow-up film to the 2006 comedy centering on the real-life adventures of a fictional Kazakh television journalist named Borat.
Let’s just say upfront that Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is heavily political. And while that might upset some sections of the population that don’t want entertainment politicized (which is already a dumb thought process, to begin with), the first movie featured a short segment where fictional news reporter Borat Sagdiyev took a dump outside one of Donald Trump’s properties (a bit we even see in flashback form), so if anything the greater themes at play here feel like an organic next step for what to attack next.
What’s also refreshing is that, while there are a few callbacks to past characters (pretty much only in the prologue as Borat is given his new mission), Borat Subsequent Moviefilm attempts to put a new spin on familiar pranks by partnering Sacha Baron Cohen up with Maria Bakalova playing the character’s daughter Tutar. Following the events of 14 years ago, Borat did become a famous celebrity but also brought great shame to Kazakhstan, although now has a chance to make things right by getting his country into the Donald Trump club of bullying. This is to be accomplished by offering his 15-year-old daughter Tutar to “ladies man ” Vice President Mike Pence.
It wouldn’t feel right to spoil the specifics of the bigger moments, but they do involve names close to Donald Trump as the movie continuously operates on nonstop shock value comedy that in the hands of most other filmmakers (Jason Woliner is the director this time around, alongside a small army of writers) would feel cheap or simply for the sake of it. Sacha Baron Cohen is most definitely passionate about this project (which started filming just as details about the coronavirus were hitting mainstream America, continuing through summer lockdown which simultaneously throws off some of the pacing yet also makes the content here that much more unbelievably absurd), especially given the satirical ending part of “voter or be executed”.
There is one segment involving abortion that I will mention without saying anything beyond that it’s the kind of teetering the line between offensive and tasteless humor that Sacha Baron Cohen has built a career on. However, in between all of the juvenile skits are some actual heart between Borat and his daughter, navigating between female suppression (he gives his daughter a book depicting graphic images of how she will die if she ever gives in to the curiosity of masturbating) and his own parental love. Naturally, it’s all juxtaposed with satirical takedowns of abhorrent behavior going on in the USA (she views the chance to be a part of the Trump family as living inside of a golden cage, as she walks around in public tethered to her father by a leash ).
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is also constructed so that there are segments of everyone’s favorite Kazakhstan reporter ribbing every day unknowing citizens, although these sequences tend to rely on uninspired humor that sees him not knowing how to work technology or just general dialogue that falls flat. Unfortunately, there are quite a few moments that bring about dead air even when it feels like there should be something uproariously funny, as if the crew failed to truly get something juicy of the mockumentary shenanigans. Surprisingly, this happens once or twice during the politically fueled humor although by and large, sticking to politics and the skewering of conservative values is when the film does work most. There is also the added caveat that Borat has to wear disguises to no longer be recognized, a joke that gets old fast.
Fortunately, the journey does conclude with a prank roping a major political name into something fairly scandalous enough that it feels like it could cause a slight national controversy. In all honesty, that’s all I really wanted from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm; one epically obscene scenario to be an upcoming election talking point. There’s also plenty of reminders that those deeply entrenched in the Republican Party are soulless monsters, which is always a bonus. Sure, the movie is preaching to the choir, but when it’s this fun it’s easy to get swept up in the insanity and have a good time.
American readers, get out there and vote.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, friend me on Facebook, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, check out my personal non-Flickering Myth affiliated Patreon, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com