It’s interesting to see how times have changed since Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2006 mockumentary that became a pop culture phenomenon. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was a funny, disgusting, and sometimes shocking film. It shocked us because it gave us a glimpse into America’s racist secret.

Fast forward 14 years, and America’s secret is out in the open. Donald Trump has brought out the worst in a country where nearly half of the population is proud to be racist. In order for a sequel to work, Borat’s film had to cover new ground. And it does, sorta.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is a better and funnier film than its predecessor for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s far less disgusting. I had to watch the first film in doses because I couldn’t stomach some of the nastiness.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm has its share of nauseating moments, but it doesn’t overdo them. What’s more, it’s not a mockumentary. Instead, it’s a feature film with a story that pranks people, including politicians. Having a story makes it feel less random than its predecessor and more engaging. Again, I doubt that a straight mockumentary would have worked again, now that all of America’s secrets are out in the open.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm pokes fun at America’s problem with women and is a better and funnier film than its pop culture phenomenon predecessor

I also found Borat Subsequent Moviefilm to be funnier — the film always had me smiling and earned three or four huge belly laughs.

The breakout star is Maria Bakalova (Tutar Sagdiyev) who plays Borat’s teenage daughter. Sacha Baron Cohen is wise to let her take charge of scenes as the film progresses. She creates some hilarious scenes with her improvisational work.

Her character is a satirical take on women who grow up in misogynist societies. Unfortunately, the joke’s on Kazakhstan again, where she lives like a caged animal, until Borat discovers her. Later, there’s a joke about her cage being better than the cages Republicans use to store migrant children.

Borat is sent on a mission to meet Mike Pence (or Mike Penis, as he calls him) in order to improve Kazakhstan’s ties with the United States. The story is that Tutar, who wants to be a journalist like her father Borat, tags along. Instead of racism, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm pokes fun at America’s problem with women.

We watch with our jaws open as Americans openly say sexist things, with some encouragement from Borat and Tutar.

Interestingly, halfway through filming, the United States was suddenly hit by Covid-19. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm incorporates the pandemic and the lockdown into its story hilariously well. Eventually, Borat meets former New York mayor and current Trump confidante Rudolph Giuliani. Sacha Baron Cohen catches Trump’s right-hand man in a sexually charged scene that’s hilarious and makes for a memorable finish.

Rated R for graphic nudity, strong crude & sexual content, language

Published in Dawn, ICON, November 8th, 2020

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