Review: Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm

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Livy Dobrzycki, Staff Writer

You’ve probably heard a quote or two from the original movie Borat (or rather Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) without even knowing it; iconic quotes such as ‘veery naice!’ are hard not to remember. Late 2020 brought new life to the dark-humored mockumentary with Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. 

 

The movie once again follows Kazakh Borat Sagdiyev, under arrest for many years since his last unsuccessful endeavor, as he is tasked by his government with offering a prestigious monkey to Mike Pence for the benefit of the ‘once-great’ Kazakhstan. He is soon surprised to find that his daughter Tutar had hitched along for the ride and, in fact, eaten the monkey to survive. Grief-stricken at first, he quickly decides to hand over Tutar, who he strongly dislikes, to Pence as his wife instead of the monkey. The movie, like the first, is filmed with only two actors, with Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat and Maria Bakalovas as Tutar, while the rest are improvisations by the two interacting with real world people. 

 

If you’ve ever seen the original movie, it goes without saying that the work is rich with witty cultural satire. It can also be offensive to certain audiences. Fortunately though, the jokes usually are used as a device to expose bigotry and other dark corners of America. As an example, Borat disguises himself as the stereotype of a far-right individual, gets on stage at a gun rally, and starts singing about the fictionality of COVID-19 and racist comments, getting many at the rally to sing along. Personally, I loved how outrageous it was and really set it into me, ‘Wow, ignorant people like these really do exist.’ 

 

Critical reviews range from mediocre to good, with IMDb giving it a 6.7/10 to an 85% from Rotten Tomatoes. Comparing the first and second movie, many critics feel that none of the stunts from the second movie live up to the original’s. On the other hand, some completely disagree and believe a good amount of the stunts are just as impactful. Any complaints about acting have been minimal. An observation that I have made is that comedy movies generally don’t see very high ratings, regardless if the public sees them as ‘good’ or not.

 

I personally adore this movie. Unlike many sequels, I find it hard to determine if I prefer the first or second. Though many jokes are somewhat repeated, many of the stunts seem to be more grandiose. Even the cinematography seems to have improved, which I particularly noticed in the scene featuring Rudy Giuliani. An interview is staged between Giuliani and Tutar, only to result in a gross exposure of Giuliani’s nature. To my surprise, hidden cameras were used for this scene.

 

The rapidly changing environment of the current world makes dating a big issue. Unfortunately, the timeliness and relevance of the movie’s setting could lead to an aging of the movie. Even now, where the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations increases on the daily, the very early quarantine setting seems like a distant memory, even though it was just a year ago. It may be much harder for those in the future to understand many of the jokes that are specific to the time period. However, another argument could be made that it’ll be a great time capsule for the future, a look back on the notoriously chaotic time of 2020. Ultimately, the specificity of the humor and plotlines tips the scale towards dating rather than the time capsule idea. 

 

Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm seems to have a great balance between the absurd and the insightful, the two having a symbiotic relationship in a sense. Comedic acts unveil prejudice, and the prejudiced make great grounds for comedy. I’ve found myself recommending, rewatching and always thoroughly enjoying this movie. The political commentary mixed with comedy and outrageous stunts will always be a great choice for a movie night with friends.