by Kyle Wu, editor
More than a decade after his initial debut, Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen’s infamous creation, comes back for a second film. As Amazon’s top movie of 2020, Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm certainly did not disappoint. Featuring the iconic Cohen, as well as rising actor Maria Bakalova as his daughter, the new movie certainly lives up to the hype.
I, like many admirers across the world of the first Borat movie, was left in eager anticipation in the weeks preceding the sequel’s release.
Following the same road-mockumentary format of the first movie, the events of Subsequent Moviefilm inspire the same comedy and humor. Cohen, disguising himself yet again as an ignorant anti-semitic Kazakh reporter, delivers a sensational performance in which the majority of scenes were unstaged. From visiting retail stores to crashing political conventions, I found it remarkable that Cohen consistently succeeds in high-stakes situations, many of which required him to act completely on the fly. After all, many of the victims of Cohen’s pranks were completely unaware, and I found it impressive that he resisted the urge to crack up at his own jokes.
To me, the ability to improvise is Cohen’s most fundamental aspect. I believe the essence of the movie lies in the sheer audacity of Cohen’s pranks. He is clearly unafraid to put himself in comical and sometimes even dangerous situations, and the result is almost always a hearty laugh. Because he has become so famous all over the world as a result of the first film, he even went to great lengths to masterfully disguise himself.
In addition, Bakalova’s performance in the movie was the most impressive, with Cohen even pushing for her to win an Oscar. She performed her role of Borat’s innocent daughter remarkably. Whether acting as an ignorant little girl or as a professional reporter, her acting seemed very genuine, and so engaged with her character was she that Bakalova even seemed to have fooled some high-ranking politicians.
Despite the movie’s great overall quality, there were also some slow parts, particularly in the opening minutes. Though I felt it necessary to know Borat’s fate for the past 14 years or so, the beginning of the film seemed to create an overall melancholy atmosphere that contrasted the immense humor that Borat is so famous for.
It is true that Cohen as Borat consistently makes degrading remarks about Jews and about women, two prominently recurring motifs in the movie. Yet underneath the anti-semitism and mysoginist jokes lies a sincere desire to affect change.
Subsequent Moviefilm, at its core, is a political satire meant to expose the ignorance and prejudice rampant within our nation. In making seemingly crude–but very funny–jokes, Cohen makes us realize the extent to which our society condones these behaviors and the ignorance that seems to dominate Americans’ attitudes toward other people. The prejudices showcased in the movie are prevalent within our society, and Cohen’s genuine acting is meant to expose them to the world.
On top of that, Subsequent Moviefilm serves to expose the immense flaws of the current Republican administration. From mocking the US COVID response to exposing the blasphemous behavior of Republican officials, Subsequent Moviefilm repeatedly highlights the failures of our current government.
I believe that Cohen’s satirical political statement is more relevant than ever, especially during this time. In our current world of uncertainty, Cohen exposes our nation’s shortcomings in order to educate people and inspire change. In fact, in an interview with ABC, Cohen claims that despite the COVID shutdowns, he continued filming in order to release the movie before the Nov. 3 presidential election.
In spite of the seeming urgency of Subsequent Moviefilm’s satire, it has received some mixed reviews, and seems to be hit or miss with much of the audience. Some have said that because Subsequent Moviefilm limits itself by making its purpose to remove Trump from office, it will inevitably become irrelevant in the near future. Others have even expressed anger at the stark political views expressed in the film, with Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giulani, even calling parts of the film an utter “fabrication.”
Though these claims may have merit, I believe it’s the political intent that elevates the film. It is clear that the movie was produced with the goal of inspiring true change in America, however improbable that might seem. Overall, I believe Cohen attempts to warn us about the dangers of unleashing our prejudices and hypocrisy.All considered, Subsequent Moviefilm is an excellent movie, and deserves nine ice cream trucks out of 10. Despite its absurd comedy, Subsequent Moviefilm emphasizes the need for change in an uncertain time.