Director: Jason Woliner
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria Bakalova
Synopsis: Follow-up film to the 2006 comedy centering on the real-life adventures of a fictional Kazakh television journalist named Borat.
2006 was the year Americans were really introduced to the talents of Sacha Baron Cohen. He not only starred in the original Borat film but was also the main antagonist of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Both of these films have stood the test of time, and can still be talked about and referenced wherever you go.
So if 2006 was the introduction, 2020 is the explosion of the talents of Cohen onto the screen. No, I am not saying that for the past 14 years he hasn’t done anything worth noting. He was been in, and done well, in tons of films, including Oscar-nominated films over the years. But, there was always this feeling that there was something more to the world Cohen could give, aside from his usual slapstick “shock” comedy. I feel like we were treated to that with The Trial of the Chicago 7, but Borat Subsequent Moviefilm shows us Cohen’s ability to excel at a multitude of different genres all at once. In one year he has managed to give us an aberrant performance with depth, as well as the bombastic comedy he is known for.
And while we might have seen Cohen at his most polished in The Trial of the Chicago 7, here we see him at his most comfortable. He fits into this role like a perfect lock and key, and when it is opened there is no telling what is to come out. And while this film may not be “Very Nice” it is still a bad, “Not”, comedy that should be enjoyed by anyone who sees it. Well, almost anyone. There’s a select few that might not think so highly of this movie, and if you have seen it you know what I am talking about.
ANYWAY, the premise of this film, like the original, is simple. Borat must come to America and has one distinct goal in mind. Like the original, the goal changes, and new challenges for the foreign reporter are put in front of him. I have always been a big believer that Borat was a phenomenon that could never be done again, and I still am right, kind of. The first Borat film was something that was so popular and so insanely crazy that it seems like there would be no way to replicate that success with a sequel.
But just like how the Impractical Jokers manage to continue getting away with their “hidden camera” hijinks, Sacha Baron Cohen learned how to adapt to a “Borat-filled” world and still make a politically relevant and hilarious film. There was something novel about the first film that this movie just wouldn’t be able to replicate that, and their counter for not being able to pull off the small subtle moments was to go grand and have large scale “shocks” that would really catch the attention of anyone viewing the film.
And for the most part, the shocks really worked. I was audibly laughing at most of the film in a way I haven’t laughed at any comedy this year. It is rare for a movie like this to have so many can’t miss moments that you don’t wanna look away from the screen for a second. The subtle jokes are there, and the eccentric ones leave a lasting laugh on you for a while after seeing the film.
While I wouldn’t say it is as good as the original, it definitely holds it’s own as being one of the funniest and most shocking films of the year. Sacha Baron Cohen is perfect, and Maria Bakalova helps Cohen pull off some pranks I would have never believed would be possible. There is a stretch of time in the middle of the film where the movie begins to drag, and the overall aspect of the films seems to be much more defined than the “thrown together” aesthetic of the original. Nevertheless, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is a shocking and hilarious revisit from Borat Sagdiyev.
Final: Not as “Very Nice” as the original, but still filled with the typical Borat laugh out loud and shocking moments. Especially one moment towards the end of the film, that I am still in shock they managed to get it. One of the funniest comedies of the year, and shows Sacha Baron Cohen at his best.
Current Tomato Score: 83%
Current Metacritic: 67
Current IMDb: 7.4/10
Awards Prospects: None
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.