No one could have known that in our greatest time of need a savior would arrive in the form of Kazakhstan’s fourth-best journalist, Borat Sagdiyev, but here we are. In a year marked by everything from political and civil unrest to 2020’s apocalypse bingo card featuring Murder Hornets and Mothman, it really should come as no surprise that our knight in shining armor is the most unlikely of characters. It’s been 14 years since Borat graced our screens, for good or bad, but he’s back and ready to make one last stand before one of the most important elections of our lives.
To best describe the plot of BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM, I’ll turn to the official Wikipedia synopsis: “Fourteen years after the release of Borat, Borat Sagdiyev once again journeys to the United States from Kazakhstan in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 elections.”
After being imprisoned in Kazakhstan due to the world’s reaction to Borat, the government decides to once again release Borat to the United States in order to gift Mike Pence their most prized possession, a monkey, in hopes that the Republican Party will look highly on Kazakhstan as they do South Korea and Russia. Returning to the infamous role is that of Sacha Baron Cohen who uses his skill of presenting biting satire in the most ridiculous of scenarios to get people to reveal their racism and ignorance. However, since Borat is so recognizable when he returns to America, he must disguise himself in different costumes. Because of this, it allows Sacha Baron Cohen the ability to get away with what he does best.
We are also introduced to Borat’s 15-year-old daughter Tutar, who secretly journeys to America with the prized monkey in tow. Played by Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, Tutar is depicted as feral and out of control at the beginning of the film until, after a tragic incident occurs with the monkey, Borat realizes he can use Tutar as a gift to Mike “VP Pussy Grabber” Pence. Quickly on, the viewer will begin to realize that this is actually the Tutar-show and is more about the treatment of women, especially at the hands of conservative white men, than it is about Borat’s antics. Bakalova gives a great performance as Tutar especially when it comes to exposing the degrading attitude that a lot of these conservative white women have towards their own gender. Her and Cohen are paired wonderfully, working perfectly off each other to convince people of their fucked up father/daughter relationship. Though I know these performances aren’t easy to do, both Bakalova and Cohen make it look simple – which I assume is because people are all too willing to expose their bigotry and intolerance.
Once Borat decides that Tutar would make a suitable gift, he takes her to a slew of different places to prepare her for her “coronation”. Borat purchases only the best, in terms of cages, for his daughter to live in; similar to what Tutar imagines the “cage” that her role-model, Melania, lives in at the White House under Trump’s rule. Add in a disturbing yet hilarious debutante ball and a meeting with a pastor at a Christian Women’s Health Center, in which they hope the pastor will remove a tiny toy in the shape of a baby located inside Tutar, and you got yourself some cringe-worthy scenes that are insanely impactful. Furthermore, Cohen also highlights the issues of conspiracy theories and the belief that Trump is the one that will save us from the Hollywood pedophile ring which drinks the blood of children. For five days, Cohen stayed in character as Borat and lived with two QAnon supporters as they explained how COVID-19 was “manufactured” and why they have such hatred towards Democrats, all the while being shown just how unbalanced these individuals are.
However, the most shocking moment comes towards the end of the film, specifically when we see what happens between former New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, and Tutar. The scene takes place inside a hotel room during an interview she conducts with Giuliani about Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone who was reading the news and/or on Twitter yesterday will have seen/read what transpired as it spread like wildfire throughout the internet. After Tutar invites him to the bedroom for a drink, we watch as he helps her remove her microphone and vice versa, while he inappropriately touches her hip. He then leans back and appears to be fondling himself until Cohen rushes in as Borat exclaiming, “She’s 15. She’s too old to you”. Whether Giuliani knew she was supposedly 15 prior to the exchange is up for debate but, at the very least, his actions are an abuse of power in hopes of sexual gratification from a young reporter. With the allegations that have just come out towards Jeffrey Toobin in regards to him masturbating during a work Zoom call, it goes to show that a much larger conversation about inappropriate male behavior and sexual harassment still needs to happen.
BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM may not hit the same way that Borat did in terms of its comedic elements, but that doesn’t negate the fact that it’s still an important and timely film. That said, it’s not just an exploration of how horrible people can be as there are some tender moments seen throughout the film, especially in regards to the relationship that blossoms between father and daughter. Furthermore, there is a really beautiful exchange that happens between Borat and a Holocaust survivor that is used as a teaching moment for Holocaust deniers. There’s also several touching moments with a woman named Jeanise Jones who is hired to babysit Tatur and eventually helps Tatur find herself. These scenes are a reminder that there is still hope to be had in all the ugliness that’s taking place and if it takes a character such as Borat to do it, then so be it.
Honestly, BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM is what America needs right now. Sure, it may not be as funny as Borat, but it’s just as effective in exposing America for the selfish, racist, and violent nation that it is. There are lots of scripted scenes throughout the film but I don’t believe that all those who appeared on screen were in on the joke, even with the editing that was done. This film isn’t going to be for everyone – most might find Borat’s approach too annoying or questionable, but the message is too important to ignore. Overall, BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM is a biting commentary on the treatment of women and how, specifically, conservative women continue to fight for white patriarchal dominance.
So make sure to check out BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM when it’s released exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on October 23, 2020, but more importantly, GET OUT THERE AND VOTE – whether it’s mail-in ballots, early voting, or in-person on November 3rd, use your voice and get out there and vote. For more information on where to vote visit www.vote.org.