Jordan Canahai’s review published on Letterboxd:
Few experiences in my lifetime as a filmgoer can compare to the absolute hilarity of seeing Borat for the first time in a packed theater in 2006. Sasha Baron Cohen’s brilliant performance as a Kazakh journalist who travels across the United States poking fun at American culture stands as one of the definitive satires of the Bush era. A movie that is by turns hysterical and cringe-inducing, it cemented Cohen as one of the leading comic actors of his generation. In the 14 years since that film rocked the world a lot has changed both in our geopolitical climate and in how people watch movies. No stranger to controversy, Cohen reprises his career defining role in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, a sequel that proves every bit as incisive and uproarious as its predecessor, and is sure to be just as provocative.
When Borat Subsequent Moviefilm begins we find our now infamous titular reporter has been vilified by the Kazakhstan government for bringing shame to his home country through his work on the previous film. As a means to make amends he is ordered by government higher ups to return to the United States in order to win the favor of President Donald Trump and improve relations between the two nations. Joining him on his misadventure this time is his teenage daughter Tutar (a fearless Maria Bakalova). The plan: Offer Tutar up to Trump’s inner circle as a sexual favor to garner good will for Kazakhstan, and some of the film’s funniest moments involve the many hysterical ways the childishly naive girl from a deeply oppressed country and her dim-witted father interact with American culture and society.
Throughout the film Cohen as Borat dons multiple disguises owing to the fact the character has become something of a highly recognizable figure over the years to better capture genuine reactions from the unsuspecting subjects he interacts with, many of whom are not actors but real people much like in the first film. Without giving too much away there are no shortage of uncomfortable but undeniably hilarious moments and interactions. For example, a trip to a Debutante ball in the American south with Borat and Tutar proves disastrous, while a visit to a women’s health clinic run by a conservative pastor results in a deeply taboo misunderstanding. At one point Borat and his daughter crash a CPAC convention in which Vice President Mike Pence is a featured speaker, and a visit to a right-wing rally ends with Borat encouraging those in attendance to cheer for the dismemberment of liberal journalists. And I don’t want to speak to soon, but a potentially compromising scene involving longtime Trump advocate Rudy Gulliani might just prove the October surprise of the 2020 election.
With a baffling eight credited screenwriters including Cohen himself Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is a bit more streamlined and traditional a narrative than the original film, while the addition of Borat’s daughter and her character arc also helps to distinguish the film from its predecessor. I regret not being able to experience Borat Subsequent Moviefilm in a theater where one could really lose themselves in laughter with an audience, but the COVID-19 global pandemic fittingly proves a major plot point of the film itself. For better or worse, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm proves to be the lowbrow satire that I didn’t know we needed but that Donald Trump’s America most certainly deserves.