“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” Is Satirical Salvation


Sasha Baron Cohen’s new film features a disturbing Rudy Giuliani cameo. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Borat is back! Very nice! 

Fourteen years after the release of the first Borat film, Sacha Baron Cohen has returned with another outrageous project: Borat travels across America with the goal of delivering a gift to Vice President, or “Vice Premier,” Mike Pence. “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” differs from the first film in that Borat’s producer Azamat Bagatov has been turned into a chair and the role of Borat’s sidekick is filled by his daughter, Tutar Sagdiyev (Maria Bakalova). Hilarity ensues as Borat travels across the country to gift his 15-year-old daughter to Vice President Pence while coronavirus cases begin to rise. 

Many critics say that “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is rushed and that it is nowhere near as funny as the first film, or even as “elegant” of a social experiment. Devika Girish of The New York Times wrote that, because Borat has become such a recognizable character, Baron Cohen is forced to change into costumes that are often rather ridiculous, turning the film from a test of “civility” to one of “gullibility.” Yet I would argue that people busying themselves comparing the two films are almost intentionally missing the point of the subsequent moviefilm. Through Borat’s visits to CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference), an anti-abortion center, a far-right rally and the house of QAnon followers, Baron Cohen displays Trump’s America in a new light — one that is hardly shocking but rather incredibly disheartening. While the first film featured only a few scenes of white frat boys talking about how minorities had too much power over the country and a gun vendor selecting a weapon for Borat after being asked which would be best to defend himself against Jews, the subsequent moviefilm is almost entirely dedicated to scenes such as these. The films are also difficult to compare given that comedy is entirely subjective to the viewer. I, for one, found the outrageous, topical and clever nature of the second film to be better than that of the first, although it was simultaneously harder to watch.

The premise of “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is far more direct than that of the first film. As opposed to a cross country trip to meet Pamela Anderson that indirectly comments on America, this sequel is a far more obvious condemnation of many issues plaguing the U.S., such as sexism. In a New York Times interview, Baron Cohen said that he wanted to release the film before the presidential election as “a reminder to women of who they’re voting for — or who they’re not voting for.” The incorporation of the incredibly talented Maria Bakalova as Borat’s 15-year-old daughter helps to convey this message, as her character goes from a sheltered teen who is taught that women will die if they drive to one who is exposed to plastic surgery and anti-abortion clinics in America. Bakalova captures numerous sexist attitudes throughout the film, as well as a disturbing interview with Rudy Giuliani. Bakalova invites Giuliani into a bedroom after the interview, where Giuliani reclines on a bed and puts his hands in his pants — in what he later claims was an attempt to tuck his shirt in. The scene was eerily reminiscent of stories that we have heard time and time again during the #MeToo movement and reminds viewers that while the film is a satirical comedy piece, the behaviors of the people in the film are real and that this is the America that we live in. 

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is an incredibly clever film. Its barrier-breaking brand of comedy will have you laughing while simultaneously cringing and looking away from the screen. I can’t do justice to any of the pranks that Sacha Baron Cohen, a master of satire, is able to execute throughout the film just by describing them. Each scene is a different criticism of America and its social issues, each being exposed in more outrageous ways. Even if you get to the movie after Election Day, it is most certainly worth the watch as it is the topical, freeing and boundless comedy that we all deserve.