Fourteen years ago, Sasha Baron Cohen played the infamous role of Borat Sagdiyev, cementing forever ridiculous catch phrases such as “My Name-a-Borat,” and “very nice!” into the American pop-culture vocabulary.
In 2020, Cohen showed the strategy used for creating the first “Borat” film worked well, and in some cases, works even better now.
The first film was recognized for its mockumentary style of filmmaking, blurring the lines of what was scripted, and what were genuine reactions from concerned people. Cohen plays a vile over-exaggeration of a Middle Eastern man, and while this sounds terrible, his aim is to bring out the worst in people around him to truly highlight certain problems in America.
The film is no stranger to racism, sexism, pedophilia, and every other terrible thing present in America – except Donald Trump.
By placing Borat in today’s insanely political climate, Cohen is able to get away with all sorts of bits that wouldn’t be possible in the first film. All of the aforementioned issues are still present in America, if not worse, and “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” serves as evidence refuting any claims of major progress made over 14 years.
The plot of the film isn’t what makes it great – in fact, the story is more of glue holding together individual, hilarious bits.
In a ridiculous, brief overview – the first “Borat” film was such a great disappointment to the nation that Borat was sentenced to the Gulag for life. Fourteen years later, the country’s premier lets him free with a simple mission in mind – deliver Kazakh Minister of Culture, Johnny the Monkey, to President Donald Trump in the last-ditch attempt to get on America’s good side.
However, the plan goes awfully awry when Johnny doesn’t survive the trip to America, and Borat’s daughter, Tutar, sneaked on the plane in order to see the “great” nation of America.
Tutar, played by Maria Bakalova, was an absolutely phenomenal casting choice. Her energy as an excited foreigner venturing out into an unknown world clashes comedically with her lack of American social awareness.
Unfortunately, Cohen never gets close to President Trump throughout this film – the same for which cannot be said for Mike Pence or Rudy Guiliani – and this may be largely due to the fact that Cohen was filmed defecating in front of the Trump Tower in the last film.
It’s hard to say whether this film is particularly funnier than its predecessor, but it’s certainly more clever. There are so many jokes that depend on massive build up – and seeing it executed perfectly is inherently satisfying.
As mentioned before, Cohen puts on this character to bring the worst out of Americans – people unaware that they are being filmed will say the most abhorrent things to Borat, just because they feel as if his intellect can be taken advantage of.
For instance, there’s a scene where Borat is staying with a group of friends who are seemingly more conservative. They make outrageous claims about how Democrats are more dangerous than the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Hearing someone actually say that, with a completely straight face, is both horribly sad and outrageously humorous.
Borat, from a technical standpoint, is jaw-droppingly amazing – many of these cameras and microphones had to be hidden, as Borat no longer has a reason to have a film crew constantly following him around.
There were scenes in which I was left unconvinced that the random people did not know they were being filmed – only to later find out that it was completely unknown to the person until they had to sign for paperwork.
While this cinematography is in a simple, mostly medium shot view, this sort of camera work is impressive.
There are two sides to the “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” coin – on one side, it’s funny to step back and look at our problems with a satirical mindset, but more importantly, how terrible of a place it is for anyone other than a white man.
A somewhat disturbing, hilarious look at 2020.