It’s hard to believe it’s been 14 years since ‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’ took the world by storm. In a time when things have changed so much, Borat’s return in the sequel ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’ might be just what we need to cut through the noise and see ourselves for who we really are.
The film begins with Kazakhstan’s fourth most celebrity, Borat Sagdiyev, doing hard labour in a gulag. After the first film, his fame brought shame and ridicule to his country, causing exports of potassium and pubis to plummet. Borat became a pariah, with all but one of his children despising him. Premier Nazarbayev offers him one last chance to redeem himself by travelling to America and delivering a gift to Vice President Mike Pence: Johnny the monkey.
But how does a sequel mockumentary work when the entire world knows the character? Spectacularly, it turns out. The film mostly follows the same plot structure as the first, with Borat and his daughter Tutar travelling together, having a falling out, and then reuniting. Cohen plays Borat in disguise for most of the film, with newcomer Maria Bakalova delivering an excellent performance as Tutar.
Cohen’s dedication to method acting is evident in his staying in character for five days straight while filming. He’s easily the Peter Sellers of our time, and his chemistry with Bakalova makes their father-daughter relationship completely believable. What follows is a cutting satire of our modern-day lives mixed with a heartwarming family narrative.
Borat and Tutar’s antics get people to reveal they’re true colours in hilarious and disturbing ways. When Borat casually asks a store owner if a can of propane would gas 20 Gypsies, the store owner replies with “maybe the bigger one.” He also happily puts Tutar in a cage. However, because Borat is in disguise so much, certain scenes can feel more like Cohen’s ‘Who is America?’ than a straight-up Borat sequel.
Like the first film, this sequel gleefully basks in its very un-PC humour, but that’s part of what makes it work so well. It’s a serious work of social criticism that might just get us all reevaluating how we think about racism, bigotry, and sexism. Is it offensive? Yes. But if you’re easily offended, maybe this film isn’t for you.
Exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, October 23, 2020