Borat Subsequent Moviefilm Review: A “Very Nice!” return for Borat
Back in 2006, the Winter Olympics were held in Turin, Italy, Steve Irwin was killed by a sting ray, the War in Iraq was ongoing, Former President George W. Bush was serving his sixth year in office, and the world was formally introduced to Borat Sagdiyev. Created and played by Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat became a cultural icon of the time as his explorations of U.S. culture captured the attention of many moviegoers and the character easily became Cohen’s most notable performance – perhaps outside of Ali G. After giving the Borat character his own movie, Cohen essentially retired the character. However, with all of the craziness of 2020 going on, it became the perfect time for Borat to return and he thankfully does with Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.
After his 2006 journey to the US&A, Borat (Cohen) is no longer the reporter he was back in Kazakhstan since his time in the US&A brought great shame to the country and is now working shamefully in a mine. However, as the country notices that President Donald Trump is cozying up to a lot of aggressively powerful leaders across the globe and want in on the action, shady Kazakhstan leaders send Borat back to the US&A in order bring a gift to Vice President Mike Pence – a very popular monkey named Johnny. Just as Borat makes it back to the country, he once had a blast at, he soon realizes that Johnny has died in the box he was brought over in and his daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova) has come along. Now with the possibility of facing death if his mission is not accomplished, he must turn Tutar into the proper American woman that will woo powerful political leaders to satisfy Kazakhstan’s wishes.
Cohen cited that the popularity of Borat was one of the big reasons that he “killed off”/retired the character since he didn’t feel he could trick anyone anymore and that he’s be recognized too often. In some ways, it’s easy to see that problem in certain parts of the film as the genuine shock of Borat’s interactions feel light here. Certain conversations and interactions he has feel a little forced and like they’re talking to a movie character rather than a real person. However, the film plays into this in a really fun way as it acknowledges Borat’s recognizability right away and creates some really fun disguises for him throughout the film. It’s a great way to step up some of the hilarity and add something fresh to the mix. His vision of a Jew costume and his Donald Trump disguise are easily some of the most unforgettable moments of the film and are a part of what makes reuniting with Borat so delightful.
Honestly, seeing Borat again is really like reuniting with an old friend and the sequel puts all of the reasons he’s so lovable on fully display. While his cultural values of women being seen as inferior and Jews being monstrous would rub some people the wrong way, Cohen always displays him innocently enough to where you love him anyways. He’s such a positive force anywhere he goes and creates such great comedic and light-hearted interactions that he’s impossible not to love. Cohen is really in top form here and his high-level of commitment and care of his craft is what earned that Golden Globe win back in ’06 and what making me keep my fingers crossed that he could find the same luck again – or at least a nomination.
Bakalova delivers an equally incredible performance as Tutar and gives Cohen a genuine equal in terms of screen presence. It’s really great to have Borat not be alone on this trip since Azamat met a gruesomely insane fate that we find out about at the start of the film and Tutar brings her own style to Borat’s crazy antics. The comedic chemistry between these two is just perfect and the daddy/daughter dance moment they have starts on a delightful note before it unsurprisingly takes a dirtier turn. Bakalova gives the same level of commitment as Cohen and it genuinely makes a difference in her not only creating a great impression on viewers, but also recognizing her as Borat’s daughter. Not to mention, her story is one that women can relate to – on a certain level.
Where Borat Subsequent Moviefilm lacks the shock value of the original, it absolutely makes up for it in heart as it tells a real familial story. Although their mission to deliver Tutar to Trump’s cronies is a perfect delight for anyone to watch, the growing relationship between Borat and Tutar is one that really warms your heart as Tutar breaks past cultural barriers and Borat learns to love his daughter. Watching their bond grow is genuinely special and makes seeing Borat again really impactful and unique. It’s really like watching someone you care about kind of grow up and it’s an incredibly delightful surprise with this film.
The best part of Borat’s return though is that this film is absolutely hilarious with its satirical humor and, once again, delivers an open slice of life and perspective within the US&A. Some of these situations that Borat and Tutar put themselves into, including crashing a Pence speech, Tutar giving a speech about masturbation at a Republican Women’s meetup, and seeing Borat’s reaction to a Holocaust denial page, are just priceless and absolutely hilarious. The whole opening sequence of Borat catching us up on his life is great and even seeing him during the COVID-19 pandemic was perfect. Also, whoever came up with that ending twist and the entire heart-warming end sequence between Borat and Tutar deserves awards because it’s just pure genius. Just like the first film, this sequel still makes you think about things happening in the US&A as some of the interactions showcase problematic views. From these two dealing with a pastor who isn’t okay with Tutar getting an abortion but is fine with letting the idea that Borat could’ve had sex with her slide so long as she doesn’t get the abortion to Borat hearing some conspiracy theories two men have about the Clintons drinking the blood of children they supposedly torture, Cohen and his crew organically capture views and biases in a way that news organizations and documentarians wish they could. Not to mention, the whole sequence with Rudy Giuliani is undeniably damning and it’s what makes this movie a must-see on its own.
With Subsequent Moviefilm, Borat is back and better than ever. Cohen once again brings one of film’s most surprisingly delightful characters back to the US&A for more wild adventures that showcase a current slice of life and bring viewers into hilarious and heartwarming situations that only the fourth best reporter in Kazakhstan can bring. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, this need to on your watchlist ASAP.