Review: ‘Borat Subsequent Movie Film’ designed to offend, not teach

The newest Borat film is now on Amazon Prime.

"borat in toronto" by wvs is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The newest Borat film is now on Amazon Prime.

Edith Olmsted, news correspondent

The newest installment of the Borat saga, “Borat Subsequent Movie Film,” centers around a disgraced Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen), who attempts to restore the good name of Kazakhstan in the United States by travelling back to the U.S. to deliver a gift to Mike Pence. Much to his dismay, he is followed by his 16-year-old daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova) who interrupts his plans.


This movie has all of the qualities that made the original Borat so iconic. Baron Cohen delivers a truly committed performance that is so preposterous and offensive that it warranted a quick Google search of “is Sacha Baron Cohen Jewish?” halfway through, as if the fact would diminish the panic.


Bakalova’s performance is weird, but similarly committed. She is brave for putting herself in the positions which she does. I don’t know any person who would do the bits she executes, whether it’s flashing a bloody vagina during a debutante ball or being alone in a room with Rudy Giuliani. 


The movie’s premise seems to be nearly the same as the original. Borat will interact with someone, and his brash, politically incorrect persona invites them to say something abhorrent. 


Notably, this movie is different from its predecessor because there are no interviews. Borat interacts with many different real people, but this timet in disguise as an American. These interactions are enthralling, and Borat has a great instinct for knowing when to make someone the butt of the joke and when to take the hit himself. But not everyone sets themselves up to be completely humiliated. 


This is where some of the more enjoyable bits can be found, in the few moments of human kindness in an otherwise onslaught of inhumanity. 


A significant part of the movie relies on an encounter with a babysitter, Jeanise Jones. This scene subverts the Borat premise, and rather than stoking bigotry or cruelty in Jones, she pleads with Tutar to respect herself, and stand up to Borat. This interaction is very sweet, and it’s impressive how well it fits into the plot for something unscripted. There are some moments where maybe people don’t seem so bad.


That’s what’s so hard to understand about these movies. The creators of Borat seem to think that Americans are awful, and if given the opportunity, they will espouse their horrible beliefs to a stranger. They are constantly proved right by their own design. Even the people who don’t completely make fools of themselves are still humiliated because they fall for it. They think Borat and Tutar are real. 


This begs the question of what the creators of this movie must think about the audience. It is evident that they must think the audience is smart enough to dissect the vitriol on screen and parse through what’s real and what’s fake, what’s good and what’s bad. They hold things up for the audience to be horrified at, but don’t bother to explain what’s horrifying about it. Do they think we’re smart, or are they too lazy to finish the job? What are they trying to provoke in their audience? In the ambiguity, some of the political poignancy is lost. 


The same can be said for Tutar’s plotline. This movie tries to implement character development for both Tutar and Borat. There were some positive moments in Tutar’s arc as she becomes less sexually repressed and more empowered. But the sexism she endures is unrecognizable in its cartoonishness. She is literally kept in a cage. It made her scene with Rudy Giuliani all the more confusing. It’s a horrible scene, but it just felt strange to hold up something real next to something so fake. Her entire character seems like an easy foil to Borat’s misogyny, and their character growth feels like such a small win in an overwhelmingly ugly world. 


“Borat” is for a very niche audience, and it’s hard to understand why so many people love it. It’s not an easy movie to recommend, but if you like Borat as a character, you’ll watch this movie and like it a lot. If not, watch something else, and don’t worry about it.