Borat is back! After 14 long years, Sacha Baron Cohen brings back his most famous fictional character for another hilariously offensive, cringeworthy and surprisingly emotional real-life adventure through the US in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bride to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
As a result of how popular the character became after his first film appearance back in 2006, it seemed impossible that Sacha would ever be able to bring the character back for a sequel… but somehow, he’s done it. In a spectacular showing of true comedic prowess, Borat navigates some of the more misguided pockets of the US, dishing a fair amount of political and offensive humour involving a few high profile individuals. The approach this time around is very different. Despite the fact that he is playing Borat for the entire film, the story allows Sacha to put on a number of different personas as for half of it Borat is disguising himself as various stereotypical Americans to blend in. It’s hard to imagine these disguises work, but they all do.
Going into the film, what everyone is looking out for are the moments of infiltration, where Borat manages to trick, sway and dupe real-life individuals into saying some interesting things, sometimes to the point of even greatly embarrassing themselves. There are, as expected, plenty of these moments throughout the film and they make for some absolutely hilarious, laugh-out-loud results. Whether it’s the rather cringeworthy moments with Rudy Giuliani or the hilarious interactions with the two Trump-supporters Sacha lived with for five full days, each comedic moment is original, different and effective in getting a good laugh. All this proves is that Sacha really hasn’t lost his touch and never breaks character, even for a second. He’s still able to deliver appropriately offensive humour that pushes the boundaries for make benefit our entertainment. Also, the current political climate in the US gives Sacha all the firepower he needs to expose and shine a spotlight on the distasteful personalities that plague that system.
Outside of the spontaneous, unscripted scenes, there is a scripted story that sends Borat on a very specific journey through the US. Initially, I wasn’t sure if this scripted story involving Borat’s daughter, Tutar (Maria Bakalova) would stick the landing. However, that worry quickly dissipates as not only do these scripted moments contribute to a number of good laughs, they are the moments that drive the emotional storytelling. Yes, you heard correctly, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm has a surprisingly emotional arc right at the centre of everything, and it works. It touches on some important, wholesome themes while never straying too far from being the comedic documentary everyone is expecting. It’s this blend of an emotional arc and the outrageous comedy that makes this Borat sequel really stand out as being different.
Speaking of the scripted story, it’s fascinating how so many real-world elements are weaved directly into the film’s events in some truly incredible ways. I already mentioned how America’s political climate is the butt of the joke, more often than not, but let’s not forget that this film was partly shot in the middle of a global pandemic. The way the film weaves the coronavirus directly into the story, as if it was always planned, is incredible. It blends the line between the real and the scripted in a way that is quite clever. It all goes back to the genius of Sacha Baron Cohen.
Sacha is phenomenal when it comes to his unique, daring brand of comedy. If he is given free reign to mess with people however he chooses, most of the things he comes up with are absolutely spectacular. His ability to stay in character at times anyone else would break is world-class. There’s no secret recently that Sacha can also dip his toes into serious, emotionally-driven acting, and some of that does shine through here. This time around, Borat is accompanied by his daughter Tutar, played by Maria Bakalova, who is just as great and hilarious as Sacha is. Her character takes a little more time to adjust to, but once she’s fully introduced, it’s all great. She also commits to the bits, delivering some great funny moments across a number of scenes, and also plays her part in the emotional arc quite well. The two play off each other greatly, making for a top-notch comedic duo.
In the end, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is a triumph, exhibiting the same daring comedy that made the character so popular in the first place. The real-life events that take place are beyond funny and the scripted moments are also funny and engaging. I would say that the same level of consistency as the first film isn’t there, both in terms of the story and comedy, but it’s still very effective. What I mean is that, where the first film felt like a unified comedic journey, this one has more going on and so is less linear, causing the occasional dip as it moves between acts. In order to enjoy the film, you need to be in tune with Sacha’s humour, if not then it won’t be for you. Fans of the character will definitely get a good kick out of it as it’s the same Borat we all know and love.