Borat Subsequent Moviefilm | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, January 17th, 2021  

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Studio: Amazon Studios
Directed by Jason Woliner

Oct 21, 2020 Web Exclusive
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Sacha Baron Cohen brings out his most beloved character out of the gulag for some more American baiting fun.

Fourteen years ago comedian and actor Sacha Baron Cohen brought to life the Kazakh reporter and documentarian Borat. In his travels to the “US and A”, Borat learned the way of American life through exhibiting exaggerated cultural differences that drove a wedge between himself and unwitting American citizens, exposing their ignorance towards other parts of the world, especially the Middle East. Stunts involving naked wrestling, shitting in bags and all too easily luring average Americans into revealing either prejudices or overt hatreds, Cohen established Borat as a comedy icon.

In 2020, we have to wonder why Cohen saw fit bring back his vulgar creation. After fourteen years spent in a Kazakh gulag for ridiculing his nation, Boart is tasked with rebuilding relations between Kazakhstan and the country made great again by new Premier “McDonald Trump”. Borat’s redemption lies in his ability to gift Mike Pence (America’s most famous ladies-man) with Kazakhstan’s Minister of Culture, Johnny the Monkey (for all intents and purposes, an actual monkey). However, due to some grizzly circumstances, Borat’s daughter, Tutar (Irina Nowak) has landed in America in place of Johnny the Moneky.

New conceit established and with a greater emphasis on Borat’s misogyny, Cohen can have more fun in America. Now a familiar face to many American’s, Borat must hide his appearance in a myriad of ways. Once done, Cohen indulges the way he knows how: by extracting the worst out of people. Borat, along with many of Cohen's other characters, thrives off this kind of personality exposure. And now, with America seemingly even more hateful than in 2006, it’ll be even easier to reveal just how awful American’s are willing to be. It may be cheap of Cohen to see the opportunity that lies in front of him, but it’s still funny.

Along with Cohen’s show from last year, Who Is America? (maybe Cohen’s best work), Borat and it’s sequel thrive when their comedy is at the expense of people blissfully unaware that they’re essentially the victim of a painful brandishing of their values, good or bad. Cohen’s strangely succinct knack for exposing a person’s true character is what makes him such a watchable comedian. At times Borat Subsequent Moviefilm—as with its predecessor—loses its bite when it’s not baiting innocent members of the public, but when Cohen does hit that beautiful, excruciating sweetspot of stealthy character assassination or pure cringe, it makes up for all the narrative building around it. 

In this revival of his most beloved character Cohen stays true to the original with the flourishes that made him so iconic in the west and so reviled in Arab nations. The mankini has had a makeover, the catchphrases are still in place, a Borat is as offensive as he’s ever been. What is most impressive in this transition into 2020, though, is that the sequel doesn’t feel like a new, gleaming version of the original, but instead a direct descendent that is very much a part of what it was in 2006. Cohen has seen an opportunity to revitalize Borat in a Trumpian world of Covid and QAnon that could’ve succumbed to the film industry's shiny repackaging of old gold. Instead, Subsequent Moviefilm stays true to everything that made the first Borat such a huge success. I’ll refrain from quoting everyone’s favourite fictional Kazakh but this sequel is indeed rather nice.

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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