Have you ever been truly on the edge of your seat when watching a horror movie? That feeling of strangely enjoyable anxiety where you're acutely aware of the blood rushing through your veins, your stomach feels like it wants to escape from your body, and it's almost impossible to remove your hand from in front of your mouth? It's what we watch horror flicks hoping to feel. It's not, however, what we want out of a comedy, at least not most of the time. Sacha Baron Cohen's secret Borat sequel will give you this feeling for the entirety of its run time. It's every bit as nerve-wracking as it is funny, and it happens to be one of the funniest films in years.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is the sequel to 2006's hit satire, Borat, and it features the return of Baron Cohen's fictional reporter. After embarrassing his country of Kazakhstan in the original film, and seeing much of the rest of the world fall into ruin, Borat is sent back to America by his government to offer a bribe to president Donald Trump, in the hopes that he will take favor on the small nation. Borat initially plans to take a famous monkey pornography star (yes, really) as an offering to Trump, but his 15-year-old daughter (Maria Bakalova) stows away to take the monkey's place. Left with no other choice, Borat must now give his daughter to the president as a young bride in order to complete his mission.
If you haven't seen the original Borat, this premise probably sounds crude, disgusting, and entirely too outlandish to ever exist in an actual movie that will be released to a global audience on Amazon Prime Video, one of the world's biggest streaming services. All of those things are true. It is utterly insane that this movie is real, and it's even more shocking that it finds a way to be relevant, inspiring, and important.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm utilizes the same hidden camera and faux-documentary techniques as its predecessor, though it requires a few more disguises for Baron Cohen's character, since so many people recognize him from his previous film. Unaware American people interact with both Borat and his daughter, offering insights into their lives and beliefs that they probably wouldn't want to share in front of others. There are moments in this film, particularly one involving a top political adviser to the president in the third act, that show some of the worst things humanity has to offer. But, unlike the first movie, this outrageous sequel actually manages to show off the best as well.
As awful as it is to see a grown man in 2020 give a Nazi salute at an anti-mask rally in the middle of a pandemic, or to hear an actual, real-life adult explain that Hilary Clinton drinks the blood of innocent children, there are also moments of sincere hope littered throughout the movie.
Borat believes, due to his upbringing and home country, that Jewish people are evil, so much so that he celebrates the Holocaust on an annual basis (it's worth noting that Baron Cohen himself is Jewish, and uses Borat as a way to show anti-semitism is very much still alive). But there's a moment in the film where the character dresses in an incredibly offensive costume, filled with Jewish stereotypes, and approaches a Holocaust survivor named Judith Dim Evans. Donning a cartoonishly long nose and handfuls of fake money, Borat expects to have a confrontation with Evans and her friend, only to be met with nothing but respect, love, and compassion. Evans brushes past Borat's blatantly anti-Semitic remarks and offers him soup, kisses his cheek, and explains to him that he's loved by her no matter what he believes. It's a relentlessly touching moment that brings you to your knees, made even more emotional by a tribute to the late Evans in the credits.
Evans is just one of a couple of people encountered on Borat's journey that show that, as much evil and hatred as there is in our country, there's quite a lot of love, too. These pockets of hope make all of the crude absurdity feel that much more ridiculous.
Our world is propelled by misinformation, "fake news" as some have come to call it. That idea is central to Baron Cohen's mission. Lies from those in power play a central role in both the real-world stories that Borat encounters, as well as his fictional relationship with his fictional daughter. Borat never makes excuses for the people in our country that believe and spread dangerous falsehoods, but it does go far enough to try and prove that even those we see as "too far gone" can have a change of mind and heart.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm will undoubtedly elicit some of the heartiest and most uncomfortable laughs you've experienced in quite some time. Prepare yourself to be increasingly shocked for 90 consecutive minutes, yet partnered with that humor is a man who has made a career out of comedy not only pointing out our worst flaws, but offering us a lifeline to try and fix them. We really should've listened to him the first time around.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm will debut on Friday, October 23rd on Prime Video.