Borat Subsequent Moviefilm Movie Review
Borat is back, and as is common with sequels to comedies from previous decades, he comes offering diminishing returns. Even though Borat Subsequent Moviefilm may not be as funny as its predecessor, it still offers a satirical, scathing and sometimes shocking portrayal of Americans.
Filmed in secret over the course of 2020, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (we’re not supposed to refer to the film as Borat 2 despite it being Borat 2) has the loveable racist and sexist Kazakh journalist (Sacha Baron Cohen) returning to the United States to give his 15-year-old daughter (Maria Bakalova) to Vice Premiere Mike Pence to form a bond between their two nations.
Working against the film, more than anything else, is that this new Borat can’t be experienced in a theater full of people. While I don’t remember a lot about the original, I do recall laughing a lot, and squirming in my seat, in a packed house. There’s nothing like watching something funny or shocking in a crowd, and while it’s hard to say how much Borat Subsequent Moviefilm suffers from the lack of this opportunity… watching it was much more a shrug-worthy affair this time around.
On the positive side, Cohen slides right back into character as you’d expect, and Bakalova serves as a terrific sidekick to shock and awe the audience. While it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s staged, Cohen and Bakalova manage to get a wide range of people saying or doing stupid things, though many simply blindly go along with whatever Borat wants them to do. Buying a cage for his daughter to sleep in? No problem. Getting a bunch of right-wing protesters to cheer to racist and violence song lyrics? Easy. Asking a Christian doctor to abort a baby seemingly produced by incest and rape? It’s the Lord’s work.
But given the last four years, is any of this really startling or surprising?
And that may be the problem. When Borat invades a political rally featuring Mike Pence, nothing of note really happens. When Borat gets individuals to spill their guts on how they feel about Democrats and COVID, nothing they say isn’t something we’ve all seen and heard ourselves.
And yet Cohen does still manage to shock on occasion. The father-daughter dance had me laughing out loud, and several other moments elicited chuckles and amusement. The fictional, plot-based scenes are generally entertaining, and Cohen and Bakalova have good chemistry with one another.
As for that Rudy Guliani scene… perhaps it was due to all the buzz, but it didn’t live up to expectations. Maybe, yes, it’s a little sleazy, but he’s a sleazy dude anyway. And the scene is so brief, the editing so choppy, that it’s hard to fully condemn the guy.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is entertaining enough, but lacks the shock, awe, and humor of the original. As a political satire, it’s effective, though when it comes to politics, nothing is all that surprising anymore. Take it or leave it, this new Borat may be worth it if you liked the original, but don’t expect too much.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.