The Reel Review
This mockumentary sequel to the hit 2006 satire Borat has Sacha Baron Cohen’s outlandishly moronic Kazakh TV journalist venturing back to the United States at the request of Kazakhstan’s premier, where he is to offer his daughter Tutar as a gift to “Vice Premier” Mike Pence to curry favor with “McDonald Trump.” But because Borat now is recognized in America, he must wear disguises to make his new mission a success.
What made Cohen’s original Borat film such a hit was the clever, crude and hysterical way he peeled back the veneer of civility to expose the racism, homophobia, misogyny and religious bigotry of his unsuspecting targets. He did so with a goofy charm. But in the 14 years since, with such vileness now on full display, it means Cohen must raise the level of his comedy schtick or risk becoming an outdated relic. Sadly, this sequel is the latter.
The sequel follows a similar format, with the addition of a talented Maria Bakalova as Borat’s daughter. Among its political moments: Borat dressed as Donald Trump while carrying his daughter through the CPAC conference as Pence plays down the coronavirus in a speech to attendees; conversations with mind-numbingly insane Qanon conspiracy theorists; and the now infamous hotel bedroom incident with Trump’s personal attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Not only do a lot of the moments feel staged, they just aren’t funny.
If you want to witness Giuliani’s shockingly bad judgment – he has since claimed he was just tucking his shirt into his pants – ?, fast forward to the last 20 minutes of the film and spare yourself the rest of this disappointing sequel, and instead re-watch its vastly superior and hilarious predecessor.
• Sacha Baron Cohen says he wanted to put his sequel out prior to the election to remind women who they are voting, or not voting for.
• Just as he did in the first Borat film, Sacha Baron Cohen again speaks in Hebrew (not Kazakh) to Tutar, while Maria Bakalova speaks in her native Bulgarian.
• Maria Bakalova (Transgression, The Father) is a 2019 graduate of the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria.