Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4): Borat returns

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”, which is also known as “Borat 2”, wants to be as bold, shocking, and outrageous as its predecessor, but the overall result feels rather mildly amusing in comparison. Although there are several uproarious moments in the film as expected, they are not enough to compensate for its weaker parts, and I found myself becoming a bit nostalgic about how much I was jolted and tickled by its predecessor.

As many of you know, its adamantly vulgar and indecent comic hero Borat Sagdiyev is one of those infamous characters created and performed by Sacha Baron Cohen. After the considerable commercial/critical success of Oscar-nominated feature film “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” (2006), Cohen decided to retire Borat, but now he gets Borat back to the screen for exposing and illuminating the absurd and ugly sides of the American society as before, and he surely finds a bunch of various targets to be lampooned here and there in US.

In the beginning, the movie tells us what happened to Borat after his crazy and preposterous journey depicted in the 2006 film. He initially enjoyed lots of success and fame thanks to his movie, but, alas, the people and government of Kazakhstan were not so amused at all, and he was eventually sent to a labor camp where he came to be incarcerated for next 14 years.

And then there comes an unexpected reversal of fortune for Borat on one day. He is released under the order of the Premier of Kazakhstan, and the Premier personally orders Borat to deliver a very special monkey to US because, well, the Premier wants to please US Vice President Mike Pence, who may help the Premier be liked and admired by US President Donald Trump just like many other notorious tyrants around the world such as Kim Jong-un.

This looks like a very easy mission at first, but, unfortunately, things do not go that well for Borat from the beginning. After arriving in Texas, he waits for the arrival of that monkey in question, but the monkey turns out to be dead under a rather suspicious circumstance, and he only ends up being stuck with Tutar Sagdiyev (Maria Bakalova), a 15-year-old girl who is incidentally a daughter whose existence he never knew before.

While Borat is initially at a loss in front of this disastrous situation, an outrageous idea soon comes to him. As reflected by the very long subtitle of the film (“Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”), he decides to deliver Tutar to Pence instead of that monkey, and the first half of the movie mainly revolves around his clumsy attempt to turn Tutar into a woman looking good enough to be the new bride of Pence. First, he takes Tutar to a social influencer willing to give some useful advices, and he also buys some fancy clothes for her before taking her to a local evening event for débutantes. At that evening event, Borat and his daughter surely deliver a deliberately gross moment to remember, and you may laugh a bit as the camera captures the clearly disgusted faces of the attendees watching them.

After that, Cohen keeps finding other targets to be ridiculed on his way, though Borat often has to disguise himself because of his well-known status. At one point, he wears a Donald Trump mask for drawing Pence’s attention at a local conference for hard-core conservatives, but that does not generate much reaction from Pence, who just looks mildly annoyed by this prank.

One of the more effective comic moments in the film comes from when Borat happens to stay in a cabin belonging to two QAnon believers later in the story. Although I am not that sure about whether these two nutty dudes are real or not, I assure you that you will roll eyes as listening to what they say in front of Borat without any ounce of shame at all, and this moment is later developed into a disturbingly absurd scene where Borat performs a song full of racism and xenophobia in front of cheering Trump supporters.

However, the movie remains deficient in surprise, which is always a crucial factor for effective comedy. Because of its predecessor, we all know from the beginning that Borat will do lots of vulgar and outrageous things on the screen, so we are not so surprised at all no matter how much he and the movie try to surpass the level of shock and awe displayed in “Borat”. In the end, we only become more aware of the inherent political incorrectness of his nasty stereotype image.

Anyway, the movie is not entirely a total failure at least thanks to the committed comic acting from not only Cohen but also his co-star Maria Bakalova, a Romanian actress who did a good job of holding her own place well besides Cohen while ably demonstrating her considerable comic talent. Like Cohen, she willingly hurls herself into more vulgarity and preposterousness, and she is certainly hilarious when she happens to be with Rudy Giuliani, who has already been getting embarrassed a lot after the movie was released on Amazon Prime in last week.

Overall, “Borat Subsequent MovieFilm”, which is directed by Jason Woliner, is more or less than the repetition of its predecessor, and I simply observed its many moments of outrageousness without enough amusement and entertainment. Considering that I was not as enthusiastic about “Borat” as some other critics, I may not be an ideal audience for the movie, but I will not deny that I had some laughs during my viewing, so I will not stop you from watching it.

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