Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Review (2020)

Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime For Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is Sacha Baron Cohen’s second outing as the ever irreverent Borat.

Life’s not been not so good for Kazakhstan’s most famous journalist. Borat’s futile attempts to bring to honour to his homeland back in 2006 evidently brought about the economic collapse of the nation and earned him a life sentence in the gulag.

14 years later, Borat finds himself staring redemption in the face. His new mission: deliver Kazakh Minister of Culture “Johnny the Monkey” to none other than Donald Trump. Should he succeed, the once great nation of Kazakhstan will see it’s honour restored and with it, his own. Apparently Daniel Craig, Matt Damon and Tom Cruise were all too busy.

Complications arise with the discovery of Borat’s fifteen year-old daughter, Tutar (Irina Nowak). She’s been raised as livestock , living in a barn, feeding on scraps whilst dreaming of becoming a real life princess, just like her favourite fictionalised cartoon character, Melania Trump. Desperate to explore their relationship and aid her father in his quest, she begs to be taken along to America but Borat swiftly declines and departs for the USA. Upon arrival, his fur-brained plan is immediately foiled in gratuitous fashion. New plan; deliver newly found daughter to Vice President Mike Pence, a serial sexual predator. Niiice.

Assuming you’re a fan of the original film, audiences will be well aware of what lies ahead. This is satirical comedy at its highest peak. Sacha Baron Cohen has made it his life’s work holding up a mirror to the woeful inadequacies and contradictions of western civilisation. As a British citizen, he could just as easily have filmed right here in the UK, we are after all, not so indifferent when it comes to touting power, ravenous greed and deep-seated classism. But America offers a radicalised doppelgänger that we’re simply too reticent to show.

Exposing racists and perverts is sadly commonplace nowadays and Borat serves up a sour buffet of buffoonery ripe for cringing. Things are trickier in 2020 though. Most citizens recognise his character, as they rush for autographs and selfies, and so Borat is forced to disguise himself with wardrobe choices that even Ace Ventura would be proud of.

This allows him to get under the radar and into some precarious situations. One of the pranks sees Borat taken in by a couple of Q-Anon subscribers (a far-right conspiracist group that believe a Satan-worshipping group of paedophiles run a child-sex trafficking ring and are out to destroy Donald Trump. Seriously) who ironically, despite their convictions of the left-wing’s sexual appetite, are more than happy to help Borat deliver his fifteen year-old daughter to Republican, Mike Pence. The sequence is topped off when Borat performs a song, co-written by his conspiracist pals, featuring crowd chanting classics like “Obama, what we gonna do? Inject him with the Wuhan flu.”

And where Borat can’t get – his daughter Tutar can. As a Kazakhstanian woman, she is prohibited from many western privileges; reading, driving, even masturbating (a children’s story tells of the toothed vagina that swallows pleasure seekers whole). Unlike her father, nobody knows her face, meaning that she can navigate the swamps of toxic masculinity and female exploitation, almost unfettered. Early on, she meets an “Influencer” by the name of Macy Chanel, who describes how Tutar must do away with any notions of female empowerment and instead become “weak” so that she will appeal to rich older men, in particular, go for ones that have just suffered heart attacks (obviously). Another scene sees Tutar conduct a consolation with a plastic surgeon who, aware of her need for parent consent, encourages breast implants to enhance her appearance. It’s all terribly morbid when you stop and think about it, but you can’t help but laugh even when the shock value reaches critical levels. None more critical than the now well publicised meeting with Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. If the word “lecherous” had a face, it would look like him.

There are however two beacons of hope throughout the film. An African-American grandmother tasked with babysitting Tutar at her father’s request, acts as the moral compass for the film. At every opportunity, she respectfully guides Tutar away from feeling inadequate as a woman, telling her to “use her brain,” that she doesn’t need to have surgery as she is already beautiful and that her “daddy is a liar.” The other pillar of light comes from a Jewish Holocaust survivor who shows immeasurable compassion and seeks to educate rather than belittle Borat’s denial of the abhorrent event.

It’s nothing short of poetic that two of the most marginalised ethnicities in America are among the most loving and empathetic.

Verdict

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm may have lost some of the shock value attributed to it’s predecessor but the on-the-nose approach to exposing our societal shortcomings is just as relevant and necessary as it’s ever been. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you may even cry. What you won’t do, is forget it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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