Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat Sagdiyev stole the hearts and innocence of filmgoers around the world with the release of Borat in 2006. It took 14 long years, but Borat is back and better than ever with the release of Amazon Studios’s Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. The sequel stars Sacha Baron Cohen as the now-iconic titular character with the welcome addition of newcomer Maria Bakalova as Borat’s daughter Tutar. Jason Woliner (Parks & Rec, New Girl, The Last Man on Earth) takes over directing duties from Larry Charles, who helmed 2006’s Borat. The film contains all the gags and outrageousness that one would expect from the Borat sequel, but it’s also packed with a ton of heart and timely political commentary, making it a more than worthy successor to the 2006 classic.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm follows Borat as he, along with his daughter Tutar, journey to the United States on a secret mission that aims to bring honor back to his their Kazakhstan. As you’d expect, from the film’s opening minutes there’s no shortage of Borat’s signature antics and hilarity. After making a brief foray into dramatic acting in The Trial of the Chicago Seven, Sacha Baron Cohen is back in his natural state of comedic acting, and seems to be having a blast doing it. Cohen is in top form throughout the film, delivering tons of great pranks and gags. Right there with him is relative newcomer Maria Bakalova, who portrays Borat’s daughter. It’s no easy feat to match the energy and outlandishness of Cohen’s Borat over the course of a whole movie, but Bakalova really shines throughout the film, and comes out of it as the breakout star. The ridiculousness ingrained in the performances of both Cohen and Bakalova are a sight to behold, especially when they get to play off one another.
Beyond the great chemistry shared between Cohen and Bakalova, the father-daughter dynamic is further fleshed out by Borat Subsequent Moviefilm‘s quality script. The relationship between Borat and Maria develops and changes throughout the course of the film. Throughout the movie, you see Borat go from an overly protective, conservative father to someone who’s comfortable with his daughter’s independence from him as she becomes more aware of the world around her. It really is a testament to the writing and acting in the film that these moments of levity are able to resonate in between all of the comedy and ridiculousness.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’s political satire is perhaps its best element. It somehow manages to strike a delicate balance between hilarity and pertinence to society today, without coming off too preachy. Such subjects as the covid-19 pandemic, Qanon conspiracy theories, antisemitism, and more are touched upon to great comedic effect. Throughout the film’s runtime, there’s an abundance of great gags that include such names as Mike Pence, Rudy Guiliani, Cohen in Donald Trump cosplay, and a few other surprise cameos. The laughs never stop in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, due in part to its resonant subject matter.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm successfully updates the concept of Borat for a 2020 audience. Between the film’s gleeful humour, timely political and social commentary, great performances, and meaningful character arcs, it’s one of the more enjoyable films to be released in 2020. Fans of the 2006 film might be taken aback by how “soft” this sequel is in comparison, but Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is a product of its time, and its ability to have tenderness and heart is representative of how society has changed since 2006.