Sacha Baron Cohen returns to provocateur greatness in a hilarious, but deeply troubling satire. He reprises his role as kooky Kazakhstani reporter, Borat Sagdiyev; in the aptly titled mockumentary, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. This time he’s returned to America to curry favor with “strongman” leader, President Donald Trump. There are scenes in this film that are absolutely mind-boggling. Cohen pushes the envelope to expose ugly undercurrents of misogyny, racism, and ludicrous conspiracy theories. He delivers big laughs and a damning indictment of the country’s sad state of affairs.
Fourteen years after he became a media sensation, Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) toils in a Kazakh prison. He was jailed for humiliating his country. Kazakhstan became the world’s laughing stock. His wife left him for their neighbor. His sons denounced him as their father. Then a glorious wind of change swept across America. Donald Trump won the presidency. He wiped away the scourge of the villainous African, Barack Obama. And returned America to its true greatness.
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Premier Nazarbayev (Dani Popescu) has not received a visit from President Trump. He wants to be viewed as a strongman, like the great Vladimir Putin and heroic Kim Jong-un. The premier releases Borat and sets him on a new mission. Take Kazakhstan’s greatest asset as a gift to President Trump. Borat is invigorated at a chance at redemption. He sets sail for the twenty-two day journey to America, but gets a shocking surprise when he arrives. His fifteen-year-old daughter, Tutar (Maria Bakalova), escaped her cage in the barn and stowed away on the ship.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm continues Cohen’s penchant for staging extreme hoaxes and pranks. The rub is that the unwitting participants don’t bat an eye to his absurd, offensive behavior. In many cases they agree with his assumptions, and are quite helpful in achieving Borat’s crazy goals. Cohen primarily targets right-wing extremists, but the average joe’s also raise eyebrows. Scenes at a hardware store, plastic surgeon, and bakery, to name a few, defy belief.
Maria Bakalova steals the show as Tutar. It seems inconceivable for anyone to outdo Cohen’s theatrics, but she outshines him masterfully. A subplot has Borat getting to know his normally “worthless” daughter. She dreams of living in a better cage, but is stunned by the abilities of American women. Gasp, they can drive cars, own businesses, and are even allowed to ask questions. Cohen uses Bakalova as his shiny lure to snare the big fish. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm has several bombshell reveals that are cringe worthy. No spoilers here, but anyone reading reactions to the film will get the gist.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is undeniably political. Sacha Baron Cohen is no fan of Donald Trump or his policies. It’s understandable why Trump supporters would be inclined to dismiss the film as a hit piece. My response is to watch the nature of the vile discourse. Cohen’s interactions with QAnon followers, white supremacists, and religious extremists are alarming. Fringe elements have taken center stage in the upcoming election. Cohen simply reaffirms their dangerous nature, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, at a base level, is knockdown funny. The sequel is definitely on par with the original. The stakes are higher now, but the laughs are just as effective. I can say one thing for sure. Sacha Baron Cohen and Maria Bakalova will never be invited back to the Macon, Georgia debutante ball. Jaw-dropping is an understatement. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is a production of Four by Two Films. It will premiere October 23rd on Amazon Prime Video.
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Film critic, raconteur, praying for dolphins to grow thumbs and do better.