Released from prison for bringing shame to his country after the film Borat caused extreme humiliation, Kazakh funnyman Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) risks life and limb when he returns to America with his fifteen-year-old daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova).
Why is Borat returning to the United States you may ask? Well, he wants to give her as a “gift” to the Vice President, Mike Pence. This is because Borat is told early on in the film by the premier of Kazakhstan that if he does not gift his daughter to Pence, he will be executed immediately when he returns home.
It’s an absolutely insane premise that actually gets even more insane from there if you can believe it. I won’t say any other plot point just because the film gets so much crazier later on, and I don’t want to ruin any shocking surprises that Borat Subsequent Moviefilm has in store because, trust me, there are plenty throughout.
It’s honestly mind-boggling to even say that I have officially watched a sequel to Borat. The first time I watched that film, I was probably around seven years old. Yes, I know that I was far too young to be watching such a wildly offensive, inappropriate, and off-the-walls insane movie, but that’s exactly what I did. My family and I used to go on camping trips, and every time we went somewhere, my father would bring a DVD copy of Borat along with him, and at night, he would play it.
Despite the fact that I have probably seen the film around thirty to thirty-five times, I still laugh just as hard when I watch it as I did the first time around. It’s truly impressive how Baron Cohen and company were able to craft such a tight, fast-paced movie that never has a dull moment anywhere throughout. It’s a short film clocking in at eighty-four minutes, but shockingly, because the film is so hilarious, it feels like it’s actually ten minutes.
For years, my family and I had small, friendly arguments with one another discussing the possibility of a Borat sequel. I was thinking that it could happen one day, but I never got my hopes up. My parents, on the other hand, thought it would never happen because the character of Borat Sagdiyev is simply too widely known now, so it would be difficult for Baron Cohen to prank unsuspecting people without him being recognized.
But, amazingly, here we are in 2020 with Borat Subsequent Moviefilm – a follow-up that works tremendously thanks to its wonderfully chaotic lead performances and its story that gets surprisingly heartfelt and poignant toward the end. I shouldn’t be surprised that we got a Borat sequel because, in 2020, anything could happen.
One of the ways that the filmmakers were actually able to create this sequel in the first place, was by acknowledging the widespread impact on popular culture that the first movie had. The first film is incredibly important to the plotline in this movie. Borat is told he needs to gift his daughter to Mike Pence or else he will be executed, but he worries that when he arrives in America, people will recognize him.
Ever since the release of the first film, he has become a worldwide celebrity, so he has to find disguises to dress up in to use throughout the movie. People that want to see pure, unfiltered Borat being Borat may be a little bit disappointed with the overwhelming use of costumes here, but at the end of the day, the character of Borat is at the front and center of this sequel and it is sure to put a smile on the faces of die-hard Borat fans all around the world.
I genuinely consider Borat to be one of the greatest comedy movies ever made. It’s a prime example of capturing lightning in a bottle. It boasts one of the funniest scripts in film history and features an outlandish lead performance from Baron Cohen that struck a chord with audiences and has made the film, Baron Cohen, and the character all household names.
So I just knew going into Subsequent Moviefilm that it was not going to be as good. How can you make a sequel to Borat that’s even better than the first? I don’t think you can. This film certainly is nowhere near as excellent and hilarious as the original, but it is still greatly funny throughout.
However, there was a section of this movie that concerned me because I just wasn’t laughing. It’s the first act. It’s largely a set-up act explaining to the audience where Borat has been since the release of that first movie, and why he has to go back to the United States in the first place. Sadly, this first act feels incredibly long and it was a little bit tricky to power through. Whereas in the first film, it gets straight into the comedy right from the start, Subsequent Moviefilm takes its time with its comedy and slowly but surely starts to show its funny side.
When the humor finally starts to show itself, it’s truly excellent stuff. I watched this film with both my mother and father, just like how I initially watched the first film all those years ago, and we were all laughing loudly after a while. Certain scenes here are sure to make you bellylaugh and there are also a handful of scenes that are gob-smackingly insane. One sequence toward the last twenty minutes is going to be talked about for a very, very long time.
But another reason why Subsequent Moviefilm works as well as it does is because of the outstanding lead performance from Baron Cohen once again. Although it’s been fourteen years since we last saw our beloved fictional Kazakhstani journalist on the big screen, as soon as this sequel starts, it feels like it’s only been a few short minutes.
Just like the initial outing, Borat finds himself in increasingly more cringe-inducing situations in all the best ways. Just when you think things couldn’t possibly get any crazier, they most certainly do. But not to be overlooked here is newcomer Maria Bakalova who portrays Borat’s daughter Tutar.
When the movie begins, it felt like she was going to be a blandly written side character that didn’t really have too much to offer, but my fears were quickly shot down. Tutar is a curious girl that wants to explore the world and see what it’s all about, but there is just one problem. She believes everything her father tells her. Everything.
Watching her see how the world really is was extremely comedic but also heartfelt toward the end thanks to the delightful chemistry both Baron Cohen and Bakalova share on-screen together. There are some surprisingly touching moments in this follow-up that I truly never saw coming. Who knew that a Borat movie would be able to invoke such strong emotions? I certainly didn’t. But then again, as I said earlier, it’s 2020. Anything is possible.
Overall Grade: A-
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and language
Directed by: Jason Woliner
Distributed by: Amazon Studios
Release Date: October 23, 2020
Running Time: 96 minutes