Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: The BRWC Review. By Alif Majeed.
Preconceived notions are a hard thing to get rid of when you sometimes begin to watch a movie. Especially a film which comes with as much baggage as Borat 2. Or rather, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: The rest of the title is still quite a mouthful. Before you start watching Borat 2, you couldn’t help but think, why the hell do we need a sequel after all these years? What was the point? Yes, the first movie was a sensation when it came out and still has plenty of people quoting it after all these years. The series of films he subsequently made with diminishing returns also made the first movie lose its sheen.
But what we tend to forget about the first movie is that it was immensely quotable and super funny. And exactly how brave it was when it initially came out and how Sacha Baron Cohen was willing to give life and limb to provoke reactions out of people and for the sake of comedy.
So you can’t help but wonder if he can do the same thing again after all these years, or did lightning indeed strike just once in his case.
The answer to that question is a resounding yes! There are times when the jokes might miss its mark, but overall this is a sequel that works surprisingly well and has its large heart in the right place.
Borat, now set in present times (and boy does Sacha cut things as current as possible), and as a character, he has aged in real-time. He is in trouble in his home country for portraying them lousy manner despite becoming a celebrity after the first movie’s events. Banished by his countrymen and his family for shaming them, his only recourse to not get murdered is to go back to America and give present Vice President Mike Pence a gift. When his stowaway daughter eats the chosen gift, Kazakh Minister of Culture Johnny the Monkey (it gets as absurd as it sounds), he has no other option but to give his daughter away as a bride (having misinterpreted the word bribe). So begins his epic journey across America again to tutor his daughter in the ways of America while learning a few new things himself.
The best thing about Borat 2 is the significant heart it shows. Right off the bat, he acknowledges how difficult it is to go undercover as Borat, as he has become synonymous with the role for better or worse. So he decides to hide in plain sight using several other disguises.
The first movie made Borat look pretty dickish, and it didn’t help matters when his lines became immensely quotable by people who often tend to miss the statement he is making. There is no doubt what statement he is making here as the movie is just as timely as any can ever be.
What also works is how he managed to somehow beat the odds and film this movie right under everyone’s noses, even creating a couple of incidents which did receive coverage for entirely different reasons at the time of filming. It is too good to spoil here, but you can’t help but be surprised and amazed at how he pulled it off.
Sacha Baron Cohen has always been a person who has been pretty ballsy as an artist, which sometimes works against his favor. Like his ousting from Bohemian Rhapsody, part of which might have come about because of his persona and reputation. But it has been a good year for him with the one-two punch of Borat 2 and The Trial of Chicago 7. Both of which combine to show how much of an underrated talent he has always been. It’s easy to take for granted how easy he makes it looks despite leaving many people in the lurch baying for his blood—all for the sake of his movies.
You initially miss Kenneth Davitian a bit, but you quickly realize the movie’s need to have Maria Bakalova as the daughter’s character as a replacement and surrogate. Being an unknown entity (both as a character and an actress), she inadvertently becomes his equal partner in crime. She is dead center in some of the movie’s best gags, which works because she was there matching Sacha Baron beat for beat.
The movie is as much about her as it is about Borat, and you appreciate how Sacha lets her gracefully take center stage when required. The gut splittingly shocking scene staged at a debutante ball or their meeting with a pro-life pastor is a testimony of it. They are as glorious and stunning as any among Borat’s best scenes. The heartwarming nature of their see-sawing relationship also stays with you as much as its most controversial or funny scenes.
After the movie is over, you realize that though you came in with your preconceived notions about a sequel you believed had no reason to exist, you had the rug pulled right from underneath you, like many of Borat’s unsuspecting victims. What you get is a pretty funny movie, which was also a beautiful tale of a father and daughter’s journey across America for some sexy time.. Not!!
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