The prodigious bribe referenced in the insanely long title of Sacha Baron Cohenâ€™s brand-new mockumentary, which just dropped on Amazon Prime, mutates dramatically in the course of this movie, turning it into something fans of his franchise, and even strangers, can comfortably applaud.
Beginning 14 years after the conclusion of 2006â€™s Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the Subsequent Moviefilm returns the disgraced Central Asian bumbler to the States sometime in late 2019, tasked by a corrupt Kazakh official with delivering a bribe that will get him into the good graces of Mike Pence. Complications, of course, ensue, and IRL a pandemic overtakes the project.
The production values in the new film are much higher than those of the first one; cell phones save the day on several occasions, and a whole writers room, collaborating with polymath Baron Cohen, has come up with a crafty tale that integrates his trademark, faux-naif satirical invasions of real American environmentsâ€”mostly full of fat, drunken right-wing menâ€”with some straightforward feminist politics. In an early scene he visits a costume shop for disguises to shield him from avid fans whoâ€™ll give away his game, and finds a bag that looks like him, marked down. And a fat suit, essential for representing boorishness in contemporary America.
Borat, a master of the double-entendre, comes off like a Kazakh Forrest Gump. The dialog, found and written, overflows with casual racism, sexism, misogyny, scatology, even anti-Semitism, but by the end, the randy TV journalist is quite transformed.
His newly glamorous daughter Tutar, played by Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, heads, of course, into her fatherâ€™s business, but the transformations she undergoes along the way keep this sequel sailing along, and will find Borat 2 a home in the hearts of a female audience. My favorite moments include the performance of the African-American actress Luenell, uncredited in this movie; she made a cameo appearance in Borat 1, attempting to integrate a stuffy southern dinner party; here she acts as a catalyst to pull Bakalova into the 21st century.
Baron Cohen is to be congratulated for getting his opus online in time to derail the re-election of Trump, for persevering in the face of pandemic-related difficulties and giving employment to hundreds of people on crews across the world, and for understanding that in dark times the world needs a story with a moral.