Film Review: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm thrives more as a real-world commentary than it does as a crude comedy

Whilst the novelty of the original Borat film has indeed worn off, this surprise sequel showcases creator Sacha Baron Cohen‘s twisted mindframe still has a place in an America, a country that sadly has only deteriorated since he last held up his own dirty mirror to their mentality.

A few weeks ago none of us even knew a Borat sequel was being filmed, so it’s a rather “very nice” surprise that it’s dropping this week on Amazon Prime Video – a rather fitting time frame given the current elections taking place in the US.  Politics has always been something ingrained in Cohen’s comedic endeavours, and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm continues his ideals of shocking the system.

Unintentionally offensive in his own narrative, but intentionally so to us as viewers, Cohen’s return as Kazakhstan’s tone-deaf TV journalist Borat Sagdiyev comes about in a film that has to work hard in order to overcome the fact that the novelty that came with his initial anonymity has more than worn off; early scenes even reference the fact that Borat is easily recognised.

On top of that, given how far Cohen has gone with his humour before – whether that be as this character or another of his foul creations (lest we forget THAT elephant scene in Grimsby) – where does that leave a Borat sequel?  How do you go more gross? How do you get even more pointed politically when the President of the United States is already a cruder personality than what Cohen could create?  Cohen opts to essentially let the American people speak for themselves, understanding that no parody could possibly be funnier, or more shocking, than what they deliver on a daily basis.

Wanting to frame his shock tactics within its own narrative, Borat returns to the US believing that he’ll be able to make things right with his home country by presenting his daughter (Maria Bakalova, clearly enjoying herself) as a gift to “Premier McDonald Trump”; the film more than indulging in the countless sexual scandals that have surrounded Trump prior and during his presidency.  Much in the same way the comically obese Azamat (Ken Davitian) was there to bounce off Borat in the first film, sparring with him and serving as his partner in crime, Bakalova’s turn as Borat’s daughter leans to the same temperament, and given Borat’s disbelief at women’s rights the script more than takes shameless joy in how you imagine he’d treat his daughter.

Whilst Borat Subsequent Moviefilm doesn’t reach the same shocking, hysterical heights as its predecessor, it certainly has a red-hot go at playing with the real world horror and bringing it to the surface; the way it addresses the origins of COVID-19 is actually quite clever, not to mention the brilliance of a certain cameo it conjures pertaining to the virus.  Cohen doesn’t have to do much to showcase bigotry and ignorance, but we can’t help but laugh along in disbelief as he converses with two deep South Americans who believe the Coronavirus is a hoax and that Hilary Clinton drinks blood; “America’s greatest scientists” he so lovingly refers to them as.

When Cohen targets politics, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is mind-numbing and, honestly, where it thrives as a commentary on the current state of the world.  When the film aims for cheaper, more crude comedy, it’s passable.  There’s still genuinely hilarious moments peppered throughout when it’s aiming for the lowest common denominator, but satirising misogyny is too easy, and this film proves that Cohen’s strength lies within his determination to uncover deep-seated evil.

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video from Friday October 23rd 2020.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.

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