‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’ Divides Critics: ‘Deeply Hilarious’ But Not ‘Better’ Than the Original

Sequel to 2006’s “Borat” drops on Amazon Prime Oct. 23

Last Updated: October 26, 2020 @ 7:08 AM

In reviewing “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” the sequel to the 2006 mega-comedy hit “Borat,” critics have had to grapple with the fact that America has changed drastically since the original came out and exposed Americans more racist, anti-Semitic tendencies. And they agree that while the new film isn’t “better” than the original, Sacha Baron Cohen’s character couldn’t be more relevant or necessary.

Reviews have been largely positive for “Borat 2,” or the full title “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” which drops on Amazon Prime on Friday. But those reviews all come with a caveat.

In one sense, it’s not surprising to see racism out in the open anymore, and the thrill of the original was in seeing Baron Cohen dupe people into exposing their worst selves. And yet critics were still shocked by the satire on display in “Borat 2,” with some even saying the film has a stronger plot than the original.

“‘Borat 2’ may not hit quite as many shocking comic highs as the first Borat, but it probably coheres more as a film — ironic, given that it appears to have been written, produced, and edited in record time, during a global crisis — and it also manages to walk a fine line between offense and revelation,” Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri wrote in his review.

“The new “Borat” plays like a prankish wakeup call to the lunacy he’s been pointing towards for ages. At a time when satire often feels too soft, this brilliant, vulgar plea for a better world cuts deep,” Eric Kohn adds in Indiewire.

Many critics singled out the film’s climax moment involving a notable politician, with some choosing to refrain from spoiling it, while others acknowledged the politician himself spoiled the ending a few months back when he called the police on Baron Cohen.

But the real stand out is newcomer Maria Bakalova as Borat’s daughter Tutar, who successfully gets the better of said politician, and even brings the film some unexpected heart.

“Amid all the antics involving real-life people, however, the film finds a surprising amount of room to explore the Borat-Tutar relationship,” Ebiri continues. “This would be a deadly narrative choice — it’s a mockumentary designed to get real people to reveal themselves as ignorant dolts, who cares about two actual performers play-acting against each other as ignorant dolts? — were it not for Bakalova’s voracious energy and immersion in the part.”

Check out more snippets of reviews of “Borat 2” below, including from critics and from other comedians who saw the film in advance.

Indiewire, Eric Kohn

The time was ripe for more Borat, and Baron Cohen has met his moment, with a wily, dangerous satire masquerading as a lowbrow comedy (even though it works fine as one of those, too). Cobbled together in the midst of the pandemic and rushed out ahead of the presidential election, the new “Borat” plays like a prankish wakeup call to the lunacy he’s been pointing towards for ages. At a time when satire often feels too soft, this brilliant, vulgar plea for a better world cuts deep.

Vulture, Bilge Ebiri

“Borat 2” may not hit quite as many shocking comic highs as the first Borat, but it probably coheres more as a film — ironic, given that it appears to have been written, produced, and edited in record time, during a global crisis — and it also manages to walk a fine line between offense and revelation. There’s been a lot of talk over the past few years about whether a movie like the original Borat could be made in today’s hypersensitive times. After initially taking offense at the character, Kazakhstan appears to have made its peace with him.

Uproxx, Mike Ryan

Over the last 14 years, things have drastically changed enough where “shocking” is no longer a relevant emotion to these movies. But that’s where we’re at: where the reaction to a sequel to Borat is more, “yeah, that seems about right,” than either disbelief or disgust… which, when thought about, is maybe the most shocking thing of all.

TheWrap, Alonso Duralde

If we want to see Americans — the famous kind or the average citizen — reveal their darkest, cruelest, most horrible opinions, we can just get on social media. Baron Cohen putting on a wig and an accent and showing up with a camera is no longer necessary. Is there a brand of comedy that could find a new and funny perspective on the president and his cadre of goons? Or a hilarious take on a pandemic that has brought death, economic devastation, and walking trauma to much of the planet? Possibly, but if such a thing exists, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is not the place to find it. If humor is tragedy plus time, tragedy in real-time is just tragedy.

The Daily Beast, Nick Schager

It’s no shock to hear hillbilly MAGA-ites blathering on about “dangerous” Democrats, or to see a crowd of them repeat Borat’s declaration that “Corona is a liberal hoax.” Yet Cohen’s sly ruses never fail to impress or amuse, because his aim is so accurate; through his and Bakalova’s caricatured performances, as well as the responses they elicit from their targets, the film brutally skewers right-leaning Americans for their increasingly loud-and-proud prejudices and extremism.

For the record: A previous version of this story previously identified Borat’s daughter as Irina Novak. The actress is Maria Bakalova.