Fan’s of Borat, actor Sacha Baron Cohen‘s outrageous fictional character from Kazakhstan, aren’t going to be disappointed by “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” (the sequel to his 2006 mockumentary masterpiece, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”). The film is a showcase for the comedian’s brash and often distasteful humor, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Offensive and irreverent, “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” pushes boundaries (and buttons) to their extreme limits.
Released from prison for bringing shame to his country, Borat (Cohen) risks life and limb when he returns to America with his feral 15-year-old daughter, Tutar (Maria Bakalova). He’s once again traveling to the “U.S. and A” to deliver Tutar as a gift to Vice President Mike Pence as a means of escaping execution in his home country. Navigating an increasingly hostile society, the pair encounter some of the most horrible types of citizens that should be (and hopefully are) an embarrassment to the rest of us.
As should be expected, the film has an extremely liberal stance and messaging. It’s near-perfect timing for Amazon to release the movie a week before the election, even if the political commentary is on a basic level. Keeping with tradition, Cohen takes down a bevy of unsuspecting marks who absolutely deserve what they get. This time he focuses mostly on Southerners, including alt-right crazies, wealthy creeps at an antiquated debutante ball, openly racist Trump supporters, a social media star who lectures that women are only desirable if they are submissive, QAnon conspiracy theorists, and Rudy Giuliani, who has created a scandal of his own because of a scene where he’s caught with his hands down his pants — literally. It’s like an exposé of the worst our country has to offer.
The first half of the film is hysterical and had me laughing until my sides hurt. The most inspired bits are so crude and audacious that I found myself simultaneously howling with tears running down my cheeks while also having to sometimes look away (like a father / daughter fertility dance gone wrong, a visit to a Christian anti-abortion center, and a private conversation overheard in a truck stop restroom). Other stunts, like Tutar’s visit to a Republican women’s meeting and an obviously set-up prank on two kindly Jewish women, are groan-worthy and create stumbling blocks for an otherwise slam-dunk political commentary. When the movie gets too serious (and runs out of material), it starts to unravel.
Cohen is one of the masters of performance art, and his shtick is even brighter with newcomer Bakalova by his side. The two have an impeccable chemistry, and the feminist angle of the story makes the film even more timely.
Tutar lives in a cage and her life is governed by a book of lies that expose how women should look and act. When some of these things are openly expressed, most of the male marks simply shrug it off. Even a salesman helping Borat choose a cage for his daughter doesn’t seem to think twice about it, and a middle-aged plastic surgeon says he would make a move on the young teenager if her father wasn’t in the room. Gross.
The critique of a society dominated by toxic masculinity is brilliant in its simplicity, and I’d never have guessed it would take a guy like Borat to put a fresh spin on women’s rights.
The goal of “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” is to provoke, and that it does. The film never quite reaches the near-perfection of its predecessor, but it’s a worthy sequel.