“Borat 2” review: A satire the world needs

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Borat Two characters squatting in sand
“Borat 2” premiered via Amazon Prime Video on Oct. 23, 2020. (Vanity Fair)

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” also known as “Borat 2,” is the only pleasant surprise to come out of 2020 so far.

Having brought great shame on Kazakhstan after the release of his first film, the titular Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen) travels back to America on a redemption mission which involves delivering a special gift to Vice President Mike Pence in order to gain the favor of President Donald Trump.

However, much to Borat’s misogynistic frustration, the gift is none other than Borat’s own 15-year-old daughter, Tutar (Maria Bakalova).

“Borat 2” is strange in the ways it is both successful and unsuccessful as a sequel to the original 2006 film. For the most part, the first film consisted of scenes where Cohen went out into the real world and bothered real people. Given the enduring popularity of the character, it was much more difficult for Borat to blend in while filming the sequel. The film touches on this and renders the original formula somewhat unusable.

Cohen and his company get around this challenge by crafting an actual story for the sequel, centering on Borat’s growing relationship with Tutar. The most inexplicable aspect of the entire film is that attaching some sort of emotional core to a character as one-note as Borat works quite well.

It certainly won’t bring any tears to any eyes, but the “journey” both characters go on has genuine competence and adds a heft that was missing from the first installment.

Cohen brings his expected mastery of deadpan humor. His ability to keep a straight face while saying the things he says and listening to the things he gets people to say is borderline inhuman, and yet the world is all the better for it. 

While things may center on Borat, the true star of the film is his daughter Tutar.

Maria Bakalova is just as, if not more, brave in her hijinks. The two never skip a beat, never show even the slightest crack in character as they blaze their path across the country, landing themselves in more and more risky situations, culminating in a much-talked-about gag which involves former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani placed in a very compromising position.

The more social elements of the film are mostly hit, but occasionally, miss. Given that the filming of “Borat 2” took place during a very politically tumultuous summer, some of the topical jokes feel a little heavy-handed and some are eye-rollingly sophomoric. It’s never distracting though, and the film’s scathing indictment on the insanity of the American world is as important as it was in 2006, even if lacking freshness.

“Borat 2” is exactly the type of movie the world needs right now. It takes all the failings of our troubled world and makes them bearable, forgettable and most importantly, funny.

Is very nice. Great success.

mason.dredge@gmail.com

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