Borat 2 Is An Outrageous, Uncomfortable, Hilarious Triumph
Jak się masz! Kazakhstan’s number one reporter is back in Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm, the most controversial movie since… well, the original Borat.
In 2006, our cultural lexicon endured one of its greatest shifts: the rise of Borat-isms. Post-release, echoes of ‘Very nice!’, ‘High five!’, ‘Sexy time!’ and ‘My wife!’ ricocheted around every pub, playground and home across the globe.
Twitching eyes be damned, its legacy is more than a slew of timeless, perennial catchphrases. Batten down the hatches, because wawaweewa, Sacha Baron Cohen is about to drop a nuke on the world.
Presented by the Kazakhstan Ministry of Information, we’re reunited with Borat Sagdiyev (Baron Cohen). Its meta set-up is priceless; the aftermath of the first film led the country to become a laughing stock, with ‘pubis and potassium’ stocks plummeting, and the titular journalist jailed for humiliating his nation.
Fear not, he’s soon pulled from the Gulag for an important mission, straight from the Premier: go to Trump’s America and deliver a gift to his ‘pussy hound’, aka Vice President Mike Pence. The film’s full title quickly makes sense – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, henceforth referred to as Borat 2.
His caged daughter Tutar (Irina Nowak/Maria Bakalova), obsessed with Melania Trump’s Princess-esque legacy, joins him on the road trip, meeting a host of colourful, shocking, painfully oblivious citizens along the way (there’s no Azamat this time round, for reasons I won’t reveal).
Here’s the problem with reviewing Borat 2, exactly what critics faced 14 years ago. This isn’t a movie looking to impress in cinematography – in that regard, Luke Geissbühler’s frantic energy and excruciating fixation on the gaffes hasn’t aged a day.
It’s packing the same Kazakh big-band music, somewhat of a ‘Borat Hill’ vibe. Jason Woliner’s mockumentary direction is quite ferocious, utilising a range of camerawork to squeeze out every ounce of embarrassment.
The biggest temptation is indulging myself by recounting all the funniest scenes, so here we go: first of all, Borat [redacted]. In terms of Jeffrey Epstein, they [redacted]. Later, he and Tutar [redacted]. Unbelievably, they managed to [redacted] and [redacted]. You think it can’t go further, then they [redacted] and in an unthinkable payoff, you see [redacted].
All the quirks which were once novel – the mankini, ‘NOT!’, the harmless fish-out-of-water hijinks, especially one recurring skit in a fax shop – are still here, but they’re far less potent than Borat 2’s other accomplishments.
The Antisemitism, sexism, homophobia and racism are even more harrowing, not from Borat’s mouth, but the subjects; the casual salutes, the lunacy of coronavirus conspiracy theories, how breezily they suggest Democrats shouldn’t have human rights, women endangering the feminist movement, hardline Christian attitudes on rape vs abortion.
Baron Cohen hasn’t lost a crumb of his nerve; it’s a pleasure and a privilege to have him back. Time and time again, his interviewees fall hook, line and sinker under the spell of their own (un)conscious, problematic values. Also interesting is how much the central narrative, far larger in scope than the Pamela Anderson fantasy, reels in normal people, often to sheer disbelief.
Nowak/Bakalova is absolutely extraordinary. It’s a fearless performance, easily matching Baron Cohen’s bravery, wit and natural comic rapport. She goes to insane lengths to nail the film’s toughest targets, with one sequence in particular destined for explosive headlines (and probably lawsuits) soon.
Above the laughs, it’s considerably more frightening than Borat and Bruno combined. You’ll guffaw, you’ll grasp your stomach from the pain of cackling, your jaw will hit the floor; this time, the guilt of the laughs is almost too shameful to bear. If you think it’s too far, you’re missing the point. Long live the king in the castle.
It could be the most outrageous movie I’ve ever seen. Honestly, I’m a little scared of the fallout. But its arrival is purposely timely, and we must pay the price for such immense discomfort: ‘Now vote, or you will be execute.’
Borat 2 is the ultimate comeback, a feast of sinful cringe, a triumph of wicked, horrific, vital satire. It’s going to shatter the Earth.
Borat 2 will be available to stream on Amazon Prime on October 23.
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