It may have always been “niiiiiiiiice” but it’s finally relevant…
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm has finally dropped on the Amazon Prime streaming service and while it feels a bit more reserved (while still maintaining its outrageousness) it actually feels more in sync with the times we are living in.
14 years later, Kazakh TV talking head Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen) is once again dispatched to the United States to report on the greatest country in the world while undertaking a secret mission to regain the love of his people.
Full disclosure, I was not a BIG fan of the first Borat installment but this time out Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is less concerned about establishing Sasha Baron Cohen’s shtick and more about shining an upsettingly hilarious satirical look at some of our neighbours and how crisis can really bring out the worst in us.
Moving on from Larry Charles with director Jason Woliner at the helm, the trade mark sensation of comedic chaos is still imbued in the narrative but it has a stronger sense of self awareness which it even pokes fun at from time to time in the script that has a whopping EIGHT people’s hands in it all. And even with all these cooks in the kitchen the film still has a stronger sense of narrative then it did in the past as the original was far too focused on absurdity for the sake of it while this time the jokes, no matter how absurd, actually feel like they have purpose thanks to a stronger over all sense of narrative.
The first Borat was simply TOO insane, but here we have those things that we tend to take for granted like story structure and plot where the gonzo set pieces actually fit into the narrative rather than being strung together for shock value.
It could just be the state of the world that we’re living in, but seeing the Borat character take an even ¼ step from the insanity that we’re used to is a refreshing bit of perspective and it actually makes the character funnier and the set pieces he takes part in that much more relevant and meaningful. He takes the lens of satire and turns it hard on to his subjects to the point that you almost feel uncomfortable…almost. But that’s the real point of something like this, find laughter in the absurdity…but try and make sure history doesn’t repeat itself either.
Sacha Baron Cohen rather smartly allows the character to be 14 years older and wear the world experience he’s taken in after the first movie. Borat as a character still has plenty of hilarity and shock value in him, but it’s tempered with an understanding of the world around him. It’s hardly perfect (and that’s where MANY of the laughs come in) but Cohen allows Borat some genuine evolution rather than trying to recreate the beats from the first film.
While opposite Maria Bakalova who deftly plays his daughter and is matching Cohen beat for beat with the comedy, we get the sense that the Borat character is finally realizing that his place in the world involves his daughter. Plus some of the situations that the both get into is simply insane and a credit to Bakalova that she sold it all as well as she did with so many of these different characters they interacted with; be they planned or set-ups. Not breaking and having the out and out balls to go through with it all is a credit to both performers without doubt.
Make no mistake, 14 years later Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is still the movie we need, but it’s actually trying to fit in 2020 while not sacrificing the sobering humanity of it all.