In a year dominated by depressing headlines and movie delays, one of the most pleasant surprises in the movie sphere was the announcement of a sequel to the classic 2006 comedy “Borat.”
The original film saw comedian Sacha Baron Cohen embrace the persona of a fictional Kazakhstani reporter named Borat. Under this guise, Cohen traveled across the United States, interviewing and interacting with real people living their normal lives. Beneath its veil of extremely raunchy humor and painfully awkward moments, the film was a surprisingly detailed depiction of the reality of American culture, as opposed to the sugar-coated versions that often dominate the media.
The sequel to “Borat,” titled “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” was filmed in secret at the beginning of this year as the world descended into the coronavirus pandemic. The story sees Borat returning to the United States in an attempt to bring honor to his home country of Kazakhstan. In order to do this, he plans on gifting his daughter as a wife to either President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence or any other Trump Administration official who would have her.
This “Subsequent Moviefilm” has a more genuine focus on storytelling than the first film did.
While the first “Borat” followed a vague plotline, it was mainly driven by the interactions with real people and the crazy situations Cohen’s character found himself in. This film, however, has more of a solid narrative to it — Borat travels with his daughter and is surprised to find that he actually cares about her.
By focusing on that story, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” has a surprising amount of emotional depth to it — certainly more than the first one did. Borat and his daughter both travel through actual character arcs in this film. Their beliefs and views on the world are forced to change, and they evolve as people, which almost made this “Borat” sequel feel like a genuine, non-sarcastic movie at times.
Fear not though — this film still contains plenty of the absurdist and reactionary humor that so many loved about the first outing.
I went into the film under the impression that Cohen had started filming this movie as a result of the coronavirus pandemic in some attempt to make another commentary on the culture of the United States and its reaction to the pandemic. I was shocked to find filming actually started prior to the pandemic. Cohen and his team somehow managed to coincidentally be filming at the right time to capture the U.S.’ descent into the pandemic.
It’s apparent that the film was written to focus on the treatment of women in the U.S., hence the intense focus on Borat’s relationship with his daughter. However, the creative team had to shift gears when they found themselves in the middle of a pandemic. They were still committed to having genuine people interact with Borat though, so Cohen, in-character, hunkers down with several nonfictional conservative men to quarantine at the beginning of the pandemic, which results in some of the films funniest moments.
These funny moments, when mixed with the lens in which this sequel presents the real world we live in, end up creating a film that perfectly encapsulates 2020.
“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is going to serve as a time capsule. The film is able to capture and present the absurd and unpredictable nature of this year. The way Cohen and his team manage to provide a look at how the people of the United States reacted to the pandemic is astounding. Despite the fictional lead character, and the structured story arc the script keeps him on, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” almost feels like a documentary. It’s the kind of movie that will be a lot of fun to watch ten years from now and hopefully look back on the times we were living in and reflect on how wild they were.
I don’t think this sequel to “Borat” is as good as the original, but I am glad it exists. It’s an interesting and surprisingly personal depiction of American life, all while providing plenty of raunchy and ridiculous humor to keep the mood light.