MPAA Rating: R/Genre: Comedy/ Stars: Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria Bakalova, Dani Popescu, Monk Hats (and no that’s not the actor’s real name), Manuel Vieru, Miroslav Tolj, Alin Popa, Ion Gheorghe, Nicolae Gheorghe, Marcela Codrea, Luca Nelu, Nicoleta Ciobanu, Rita Wilson, Jason Woliner, Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani, Brian Patrick Snyder, Macy Chanel, Jonathan Bright, Dr. Jean Sheffield, Charles Wallace, Jeanise Jones, Alan “Randy” Knight, Jerry Holleman, Jim Russell, Judith Dim Evans/ Runtime: 96 minutes
I think it is safe to say that when the slice of cinematic pie that is Borat (insert long subtitle here) was first given to the world all the way back in the year 2006, it was very much a lightning in a bottle kind of movie. Yes I am sure that those who were aware of this distinct brainchild from lead actor/writer Sacha Baron Cohen knew what to expect to some degree, but I still don’t think anyone was quite ready for the downright hilarity that the movie gave audiences. Indeed not only is it comedic brilliance from beginning to end, but it also functions as a riveting look back at how people in the United States were living in the aftermath of 9/11. To that end, it may have taken close to 2 decades, but we have now found another moment of chaos and upheaval that requires Borat to come back into our lives once more. Yet whilst it shouldn’t be too surprising to see that the element of surprise is no longer there, it is satisfyingly surprising for me to be able to tell you that Borat 2 (as I like to call it) is still in many ways just as funny as the original due to not only successfully giving us the spirit of what came before, but also adding some heart and novelty into the mix as well thus making for one heck of a fun time to be had.
The plot is as follows: The slice of cinematic pie that is Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery Of Prodigious Bribe To American Regime For Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan (a title that is incidentally changed quite a few times as this slice of cinematic pie goes on) brings the movie goer up to speed on how life has been going for our favorite Kazakhstani television journalist, and right off the bat lets us know that life hasn’t been the best in the world in the time since the first movie came out in 2006. This is because despite the movie being a hit, it also had the unintended side effect of the world seeing Kazakhstan as no more and no less than a joke of a country and as a result the country’s economy has completely collapsed thus seeing our intrepid hero being sent to a prison camp for his buffoonery and/or transgressions. Of course things soon take a turn and we see that our hero is given a chance to redeem himself. This takes the form of the fact that the government of Kazakhstan feels that with the election of Donald Trump, America’s relationship with their country can be improved since Trump is known for being on good terms with governments that are authoritarian in nature and since Borat knows America better than most he is given the chance to be his country’s “ambassador” aka bribe deliverer. To that end, we see that the scheme the country’s government has cooked up is to gift to Vice President Pence a famous local monkey by the name of Johnny the Monkey, but this quickly falls flat when Borat discovers that his daughter Tutar Sagdiyev has decided to be in the monkey’s crate instead of the monkey. Thus finding himself in need of a quick fix so he isn’t put to death, Borat instead comes up with the “ingenious idea” to give his daughter to Pence instead. Of course to do that he must first change his daughter into a woman that is one an American would find attractive, but in doing so Borat and Tutar soon in their own ways discover that life really is different for females in different parts of the world and Borat is soon left with a difficult choice: put his needs before his own daughter and live or give her the chance to maybe have a life she wants and go home and die a disgrace to his country….
Right off the bat, I should let you know that Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is sadly saddled with the distinct set of kryptonite that the vast majority of follow-ups in the genre of comedy possess including, but not limited to the fact that a bar has now been set for this movie to reach and/or surpass in order to be appreciated as well as operating with a movie going audience that is in on the set-up from the get-go and these things do matter in the grand scheme of things. This is because jokes will usually work better when you don’t know the build up for it let alone the zinger and Borat 2 is one movie that is not able to pull that off. As such, some of the more random moments between our intrepid hero and the various people he crosses paths with, especially those that are comedic in nature, don’t have the same punch that the first one did. Along with that though, it should be noted that one rule to making a sequel in the world of movie magic is that sequels need to be “bigger” and that is one arena this movie is more than happy to oblige courtesy of making some truly gutsy choices that are knocked completely out of the park. Indeed over a decade has passed, but Borat is still capable of casually saying some of the most brutal things ever when talking with completely random people and this degree of comedic brilliance is more than enough to have you laughing your butt off in your living room as you get see both Sacha Baron Cohen and relative newcomer Maria Bakalova completely annihilate a group of events with their juvenile shenanigans with a pair of standouts being both a debutante ball and a key moment for Tutar at a Republican Women’s Club meeting respectively.
Now with that being said, I should also point out that you would think with how popular Borat is as a character that might be a negative that this slice of cinematic pie might be faced with. This is because since you would assume that due to how amazing the first film was resulting in an increased familiarity with this distinct individual that it might actually hinder the “undercover” aspect of the sequel’s narrative. However, this is not as big of an issue as you might expect and this is not just because the film has a comedic brilliant solution that addresses that, but also because this movie is more of a 2-person film than the last one and also because Maria Bakalova is exactly the actress that this slice of cinematic pie requires. Indeed whereas the first movie was by and large Cohen’s show in this one he is given the opportunity to split the work and Bakalova shows that she has what it takes to make her portion work just as well as Cohen’s. Indeed a lot of the funniest moments in this film revolve around Borat and Tutar going back and forth with each other, but at the same time Bakalova proves that she is just as good a performer as Cohen and just as funny as well. Indeed it’s an incredible performance from an actress that I hope audiences are treated to more performances from in the years ahead.
Yet I feel it should be said that the completely ridiculous behaviors conducted by our dynamic lead duo in this are only half of why this movie is as funny as it is. I say that because it’s the responding reactions that they are treated to which not only fill in the missing half, but inject this slice of cinematic pie with a degree of satire that is wonderfully brilliant. I mean Borat can say a lot of the previously discussed horrible things that he does because you know he isn’t a real guy. However when a lot of the real people in this either just look the other way or even agree with what he is saying due to thinking that they can get away it that’s when this movie really gets your attention. Incidentally this doesn’t just include the typical assortment of random people that Borat and his daughter cross paths, but some quite notable individuals as well that will leave you completely shocked. Yet what makes this sequel different than the first movie though is it doesn’t just display horrific varying shades of nastiness. Rather, there is an actual degree of heart in this go-around from Tutar being taught about the kinds of opportunities women can have when not in a country like Kazakhstan to the absurdly anti-Jewish Borat actually being accepted by some Jews in a synagogue, to some conspiracy nuts actually trying to save Borat’s life at one point. Indeed it really does contribute quite the riveting complicated tone ingredient to the film without sacrificing anything in regards to the comedy that is present.
All in all I think it is safe to say that when taking into account all of the chaos and general anarchy in the world surrounding us when it comes to the already infamous year that was 2020, I can honestly say that it is actually quite remarkable that the slice of cinematic pie that is Borat 2 actually was made and subsequently released for mass audience consumption and we as movie going audiences should be thanking our lucky stars that it did since this slice of cinematic pie is one that I think the world needs now more than possibly ever before. Indeed lead actor/character creator Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedic talents in regards to satire are just on target as they ever have been and as a result we get a follow-up that is equal parts hilarious and brilliant in the best ways. No this slice of cinematic pie doesn’t operate on the level that the first one from 2006 did, but this is still at the end of the day a wonderful sequel that with the first one actually does make for one heck of a double feature. On a scale of 1-5 I give Borat Subsequent Moviefilm a solid 3.5 out of 5.