on: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Synopsis: Jagshemash! Fourteen year after great Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen) create educational documentary about America, he return to the US & A to deliver his teenage daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova) to Vice Premier and reknowing pussyhound Mickael Pence as bribe to put once glorious nation of Kazakhstan in the good book of Premier McDonald Trump. Chinqui.

1. I was eighteen years old in 2006. This is pertinent information because it should clue you in to my relationship with Borat – both the character and the first film that bears his name. Yes, I was one of those boys – the ones who could recite Borat’s finest monologues from memory, inclusive of requisite bad impression and mid-delivery giggle fit. As a reminder – Borat Sagdiyev is a fake Kazakh journalist, played by British (and Jewish) comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who probes at people’s less savoury beliefs under the guise of interviewing them for Kazakhstan TV. The genius of Borat is that he is, at heart, an innocent. Cohen plays him as a naif who knows no better, someone who says horrible things only by dint of his backwards culture. (1) Yet the Borat character is one fundamentally defined by a kind of sweetness and joy, the kind of guy who others instinctively warm to and feel comfortable around. This, of course, is when Cohen springs the trap, luring people who should know better into revealing their darkest beliefs, often of a racist or sexist nature. It was, and remains, a highly effective stratagem, and fourteen years has clearly not dulled Cohen’s edge and cunning in the slightest. Yet, after watching Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (hence shortened to Borat 2), I cannot help but wonder that, as good as the film is (and it is good, though not great), is Borat really necessary in 2020? Is there a need to try to trick people into showing how terrible they are when these days they are just tripping over themselves to exhibit their shittiness to the world? If the President of the United States and his supporters are willing to say and do the worst possible things with barely even the slightest veneer of ‘respectability’, then why even bother with Borat? What’s the point?

Exhibit A in Cohen’s uncanny ability to get people to say what they really think

2. Ok, the first and most simple point is this – Borat 2 is a funny movie. It is not as sidesplittingly hilarious as its predecessor due to diminishing returns and a slight overfamiliarity to the proceedings, but Cohen and his conspirators are still the very best at what they do, which includes making people laugh. In particular, the scene where Borat presents his daughter at a Georgia debutante ball is a masterpiece of cringe comedy, as it escalates from Borat’s slight inappropriateness (leading to a daughter’s priceless reaction to her father’s sexist comment) to a full-scale gross out gag that is as howlingly funny as it is uncomfortable to witness. Unfortunately, the other ‘major’ stunts that the film pulls do not land as well – the bit where Borat dresses up as Donald Trump evokes chuckles at best, while the ‘Country Steve’ singalong (where Cohen gets a bunch of far-right anti-maskers to sing a ditty about injecting Obama with the Wuhan flu and chopping up journalists just like the Saudis do) is a decent but ultimately pale imitation of the first’s national anthem or the TV show’s ‘Throw the Jew Down the Well’. And of course, there is the big one, which has already been splashed all over newspaper headlines around the world. The Giuliani bit is, in all honesty, far more depressing than funny, and should not be even the slightest bit surprising to anyone with an iota of awareness about the moral depravity of the Trump administration. Yet, even though it may not exactly be shocking news to learn that Giuliani is (i) a massive sleazeball and (ii) far, far, far too easily tricked by the world’s most obvious honeypot, there is some sense of karmic satisfaction to see Cohen and Bakalova figuratively (and somewhat literally) pull the pants off this vile ghoul.

Pictured: The Crypt Keeper’s fifth understudy

3. Where Borat 2 succeeds comedically is in the scripted segments and the jokes around the margins of the biggest stunts. I knew I was in good hands early on when the movie delivered a real humdinger of a Justin Trudeau joke, and the really uproarious segment of the CPAC conference sketch is what outfit Borat first enters the conference in (and its accompanying line). Similarly, while the scene with the pastor in the ‘women’s health clinic’ (2) did not get as much media attention as the others, it is probably the best of Borat’s interactions with a ‘civilian’, as Cohen pushes juuuuuuuuust how far the religious right is willing to go to justify its anti-abortion stance. Borat 2 also ends up becoming a better narrative than its predecessor thanks to its scripted segments, which form a relatively solid backbone of a father learning to embrace his daughter (and even a little feminism). Unlike Borat, which was really just a number of sketches loosely tied together, Borat 2 has all the bells and whistles of your typical Hollywood comedy plot, including heartwarming moments (which land surprisingly well!), intertwining character arcs, and even some world-building which ties in nicely to current events. Are any of these necessary for a Borat moviefilm? Probably not, but they are hardly unwelcome in the movie.

4. One reason why these scripted scenes work is the spectacular chemistry between Cohen and Bakalova. This moviefilm is a stunning global introduction for the previously-unknown Bulgarian actor, who proves to be every bit as fearless and committed as Cohen – and perhaps even more so, considering the way she puts herself in the line of fire. The film’s best moments almost entirely belong to Tutar, and Bakalova seizes them with equal parts ferocity and courage. It is as impressive a debut as I’ve seen in a long time, with Bakalova having to play three characters – Tutar the feral child, Tutar the burgeoning feminist, and (best of all) Tutar the alt-right blonde propagandist, and she is so entirely believable as all three that they scarcely seem to be played by the same performer. It is Bakalova who serves as the heart of Borat 2, with her and Cohen showing a great deal of believable affection, and there is a very convincing argument to be made that Tutar is the real protagonist of the movie. In any other year, she would be a dark horse for an Academy Award, and would deserve it simply for one of the best delivered ‘cunt’s in motion picture history. Perhaps realising what he has on his hands, Cohen wisely allows Bakalova to take much of the lead, though his Borat is still nothing short of iconic (which the film cleverly makes reference to as well) and his performance is still as balls-to-the-wall as expected. Cohen even allows his most (or possibly second-most) beloved creation a little redemption by growing to be slightly less anti-Semitic through a wonderful (and absolutely hysterical) conversation with a Holocaust survivor in a synagogue.

She’s so unknown that this agency picture of her is the best I can get at the moment. This obscurity will not last long.

5. So, is Borat 2 worth the watch? The answer is an undoubted yes, for the very simple that there is no one else in the world capable of pulling off these stunts. Borat 2, like the first movie, is many things – American freakshow, political satire, gross-out comedy, and a surprisingly sweet father-daughter road trip movie. There are legitimate questions to be asked as to whether Borat’s schtick is all that effective in an age where those who hold regressive beliefs cannot even be bothered to disguise them, and whether those who would benefit most from a satire like this would even bother watching it before tarring it as ‘librul propaganda’. Still, one must give credit to Cohen, Bakalova, and their collaborators, because at the very least they are trying to make some kind of a difference, even though it speaks to the paucity of mainstream culture that the guy in the mankini might be a better bulwark against fascism than any other equivocating news network. And even if you are sick and tired of all this shit (who isn’t?) and cannot be bothered with all these high-minded ideals, then at the very least Borat 2 will deliver a largely entertaining and funny experience, albeit without some of the freshness or novelty of the first movie. All in all, it has to be said that Borat 2 is …

wait for it …


  1. I have to address it at some point, so let’s just get it out of the way. Yes, Kazakhstan is a real place, and Cohen’s very broad caricature of them as a generically regressive Eastern European backwater is at best unrepresentative, and at worst insulting. There is no way that the Borat character could possibly work if he were created in 2020, and he only verges on respectability due to (i) his age and (ii) the grander ideals he is put in service too. If this is (which is most likely) to be Borat’s last ride, then it is perhaps best to gracefully retire him, if only for the sake of the beleaguered people of Kazakhstan, who I’m sure are sick to death of ‘MY WIFE!’
  2. Really pushing that euphemism as far as it will go, huh?






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