REEL Review – Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)

Director: Jason Woliner | 1h 35mins | Comedy

After 14 years of exile Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen) is called upon by his President to go on a mission to America. When his 15 year old daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova) sneaks onto the trip, he decides to offer her to American politicians in order to curry favour with President Trump.

It’s unbelievable to think that it’s been 14 years since Cohen went galavanting around America infiltrating it’s culture in one of the most bizarre ways possible (one that involved Pamala Anderson’s attempted kidnapping) in order to expose people for their ignorance. It was a hit that implanted Borat into popular culture, so it’s surprising to see a sequel this many years later considering the films dependency on undercover work. But, it couldn’t come at a better time, as Cohen sets his sights on the Trump administration and the corruption and ideals that have been on the surface since it’s beginnings.

Probably the film’s biggest obstacle is Borat’s fame, he’s a character that most people of a certain age can quote or recognise, but the film overcomes this obstacle very quickly. Cohen embraces that Borat fame and shows us the persistence of the American people as they mob him on the street, even offering Borat money in order to get an autograph. Cohen then uses his uncanny ability for character to create numerous disguises (one is even Donald Trump himself) in order to achieve the same provocation that the first film had all those years ago.

The main reason for Borat’s next trip to America is to gift a pornstar monkey to Vice President Mike Pence, in order to curry favour for The President of Kazakhstan. But when his daughter worms her way into the box (eating the monkey also) Borat has to improvise his plan in order to avoid execution. He decides to utilise his daughter and gift her to American politicians with the knowledge of their lust for younger women. It’s the driving force behind the film, using it’s comedy to strike a cord in the reality of contemporary America – just like Borat did all those years ago.

After all, Borat’s comedy can be hit and miss but it’s the political and contemporary edge that makes the character so important.

But the film isn’t satisfied with just one thread to it’s story, it uses small scenes to expose the outright baffling ideal that a lot of American’s have. One scene sees Borat and his daughter Tutar sat in a Doctors office talking about a baby in her stomach (a small toy from a cupcake) wanting to get rid. Obviously the joke here is that the Doctor is of the belief that Borat has impregnated his underage daughter, but the sting is so much more important. It’s the unbelievably straight-faced way the Doctor refuses to give an abortion – reminding us of those horrifying abortion laws that plague many of the US states.

Tutar is played by relatively unknown Bulgarian Actress Maria Bakalova who’s role in the Subsequent Moviefilm is one of the most wonderful aspects. She makes the film fresher, more open to possibility and in doing so elevates it to where it wants to be. It’s a tough ask to be on the same level of such a seasoned comedian like Cohen, but Bakalova has that same natural absurdity, as well as the determination and commitment that roles like this is so need. After all, Borat’s comedy can be hit and miss but it’s the political and contemporary edge that makes the character so important.

No scene will prove Bakalova’s talents – or the true risk that a film like this takes – more than a scene involving personal friend and lawyer to Trump, Rudy Giuliani. It’s the absolute pinnacle of the film exposé, as Tutar sits down with Rudy in a hotel room and performs an interview, leading to the bedroom in which Rudy is caught in a rather compromising position. This scene is the reason people will talk about Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm for a very long time, it’s a reminder that despite Cohen’s characters always being known for quotability and absurdity, at their core they are a weapon against everything wrong in this world.

What makes Borat’s sequel work is the same thing that made the first work, being more about the here and now and making this film very important in the contemporary landscape. But, while the first survives on it’s own ability to create fresh comedy blended with a social experiment, this one seems more about reeling off some of the hits in it’s fictional story. This is definitely a film that may not stand the test of time like the first one did, but in the here and now this is an incredibly important Comedy for the world to see.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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