In 2006, the world was blessed with Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat”. An American mockumentary comedy film that forever changed the landscape of cinema. A scathing piece of satire launched against the so-called “American Dream“. Through the character of Borat, Cohen had exposed the systemic issues that had plagued a nation. It tackled everything from feminism to racism to the American War on Terror. All without sounding the least bit preachy. Even if you couldn’t quite understand all of its nuances, we could all revel at Cohen’s amazingly thick skin in the face of his visibly disturbed captive audience, or victims.
Now, in 2020, he returns once more with the sequel, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”. It originally had a longer, more absurd name. It was supposed to be called “Borat: Gift of Pornographic Monkey to Vice Premier Mikhael Pence to Make Benefit Recently Diminished Nation of Kazakhstan”. Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, does it? There’s a certain amount of trepidation felt when approaching this film. So much anxiety and anticipation surrounding this film can be summed up in one simple question. Can this film live up to its predecessor’s legacy? The only appropriate answer would be yes…it very nice!
As expected, the film’s premise is as ridiculous as its title. The mockumentary follows Borat as he travels to the US of A once again for the Kazakhstani government. This time, he’s sent to give a pornographic monkey to US Vice-President Mike Pence. This isn’t fictional, mind you. All this is happening for real. Along the way, though, Borat’s daughter, Tutar follows him along. After Tutar supposedly devours the monkey, Borat decides to instead give her away to Pence. Let the chaos begin!
The thing that put the original film on the map was its stunning shock-value. Prior to 2006, we’d never seen a film that blurred the line between what’s real and fictional. It was an amazing exercise in schadenfreude as we watched live reactions of people to Borat attacking the nation’s sacred institutions. It was transgressive, revolutionary and groundbreaking. So if you came in here, hoping to feel the same way, we caution you to temper your expectations. It doesn’t feel nearly as awe-inspiring as it did the first time around. Once you’ve come to terms with the fact, you’ll find that there’s still plenty to enjoy with the film.
“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” doesn’t shy away from tackling major matters of contention in the States. And when we say tackle, we mean lampoon. The whole film serves as a sort of litmus test to see how egregious the American way of life truly is and boy is it ugly. The film’s pacing masterfully compounds one abominable instance after another. One of the most memorable scene in the film is when Borat purchases a chocolate cake and has a baker pipe “Jews Will Not Replace Us” on the cake. Not a single ounce of protest or word of resistance. It was both deeply disturbing and hilarious at the same time.
Things get even more insane when his daughter accidentally swallows an inedible baby figurine. Borat proceeds to take her to a Christian Crisis Pregnancy Centre to get the baby out. There were moments in which we thought that these events couldn’t possibly be real. Nearly none of it was staged! Those were very real people who had the supreme displeasure of encountering Borat and Tutar. Admittedly, there were some plot beats that the film retreads. Namely, the scene in which Borat seeks spiritual guidance from a religious group. It’s anything but heartwarming, though. It may even be a little offensive, depending on who you ask.
In terms of scale, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is far more ambitious than its predecessor. Seeing that it actually managed to drag high-profile politicians into this film. Somehow, they got Donald Trump’s legal advisor Rudy Giuliani to sit down in an interview with them. The writing of the mockumentary is brilliant. Every word Borat and Tutar say are carefully crafted to best elicit their desired responses. There’s a jaw-dropping scene in which they convince a male plastic surgeon to say on camera that he’d sexually assault Tutar if Borat wasn’t there. Some people might call that entrapment. We call that comedy gold.
Oh, and if any of you were wondering whether the film was going to be tamer with the inclusion of a female co-star, you can breathe easy. Maria Baklova’s Tutar is every bit a match for Cohen’s Borat. Arguably, her presence in the film makes the whole affair even grosser and weirder. Tutar has this unique ability to lower people’s defences due to society’s preconceptions of women. Thus, it lends more power to her scenes when she shatters our notion of femininity. That ballroom scene in which she performs her…period dance will be forever etched in our brains.
For all of the film’s provocative glory, there are some minor flaws to it. For one, the film is fairly one-sided in its attack on the American Right. It would have made for a more balanced experience if we’d seen Borat sling some mud at the Democrats as well. Perhaps invade a feminist rally or harass a gay pride parade. Some of the scripted scenes between Borat and Tutar overstayed their welcome at times. As amusing as the writing is, the real strength of the film comes from its uncanny power to get a rise out of people. Thankfully, these scenes are few and far between. All forgivable detractions to an otherwise unforgettable experience.
“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” might not be as groundbreaking as the original but it certainly is as hilarious as its predecessor. Fans of the first film and newcomers alike will find this film to be a gut-busting affair from start to finish. All at the expense of the American public. In the words of its titular hero: it very nice!
In a year so full of horror and heartache, “Subsequent Moviefilm” is a cathartic break to the hellscape that is 2020. Those with a weaker tolerance for vulgarity and public indecency may want to skip this one. For all you wonderful degenerate lovers of satire out there, this film is a huge win!
You can now check out “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” on Amazon Prime Video as of today. Be sure to tell us your favourite moment in the comments down below.