14 years ago, a mankini-wearing, moustached character burst from the television onto cinema screens and made his mark on comedy history. Now, he’s back tackling Trump’s America, COVID-19 and everything in between. Less fresh but more satirical, ‘Borat: Subsequent Movie Film’ is a welcome return from Sacha Baron Cohen’s most enduring character.
When Trump became president, it was noticeable that Baron Cohen became far more politically active than before. While his ‘shtick’ has always been exposing controversial topics with equally controversial characters, it was 2018 when his most political project was released. ‘Who Is America’ took a far more active approach at exposing certain subjects – Dick Cheney and OJ Simpson to name two – and was a great success. Here, he uses his most famous character, with a bunch of new disguises, all to try and sway the American Voter.
The simple plot is that Borat is sent back to America to bribe Mike Pence (“Michael Penis” as the titular character calls him) in order to make Kazakhstan great again. His daughter join’s him for the ride, and through their travels they encounter everyone from deep south republicans and conspiracy theorists, to plastic surgeons and A-List stars.
Obviously, Baron Cohen is a master of character comedy, fully dedicating himself to the character of Borat for days at a time in order to properly convince the subject’s he’s interacting with that he is a real person. The breakthrough star of this film however is Maria Bakalova, a 24 year old Bulgarian actress who is just as committed to the role of Borat’s 15 year old daughter ‘Tutar Sagdiyev’. Her performance shows the same bravery as her co-star, despite there being a 25-year age gap between them. She is fearless in the situations she performs in, and this dedication to the role is astonishing.
Despite the film being only 96 minutes, the pacing of the film does drag in places. Though some scenes feel unnecessarily crass and ultimately like wasted time, it still packs a solid satirical punch through a series of outrageous set pieces. These include the iconic moment shown in the trailer where Baron Cohen invaded a Mike Pence rally… dressed as Donald Trump; a scene at a Deep South rally in which Cohen gets the audience to sing appalling lyrics; and a very gross moment staring Donald Trump’s Personal Attorney Rudy Giuliani. The way the filmmakers crafted a narrative out of these various stunts, especially with the involvement of the COVID-19 virus as a contemporary plot point, is admirable filmmaking.
Overall, Borat 2 is basically more of the same, just with a sharper political sword this time. Still offering the same mix of satire, slapstick and toilet humour, it packs a decent punch, but will most likely change very little in this current political race.