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.
I’ve seen #Borat2 around six times over the last few months, and I can’t wait to watch it a seventh. It’s crazy and wonderful and couldn’t be more timely. It also has a few of the funniest scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie. I’m excited for you to see it.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) October 19, 2020
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) October 18, 2020
There’s a part of #Borat2 that is so INSANE, I truly cannot shake it. My God, I can’t wait 4 everyone to see this film. It’s like a modern day “Great Dictator.” It tackles fascism & Nationalism head on in all of its ugliness, but also shows the true beauty of what America can be
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) October 19, 2020
#Borat2 is maybe the scariest horror movie this October, but also deeply hilarious at the same time. There are at least 4 bits in this that are so outrageous, they will be talked about for years. Without a doubt a worthy, necessary and news-making sequel. pic.twitter.com/2OMsSjjHyr
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) October 21, 2020
— Adam McKay (@GhostPanther) October 21, 2020
#Borat2 takes a little bit to gain steam, but then offers some amazing and hysterical moments even if it can’t quite match the first movie. But there are a couple of things that will get some BIG reactions and get a lot of media attention. And a Borat movie got me emotional (!?)
— Eric Goldman (@TheEricGoldman) October 21, 2020
Agreed! Borat 2 is shockingly great! He did it again. There is stuff in it that will truly blow your mind and it is hilarious and troubling in the best way. https://t.co/M8T60R5ybo
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) October 20, 2020
Borat 2 is…fucking insane. Like completely wild. I screamed and turned my head more than I watched the movie, got tons of reasons, which is exactly the point.
I think the first film is *better* but that this exists and is as shocking and hilarious as it is is a 2020 miracle. pic.twitter.com/MBQPMtfPIe
— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) October 21, 2020
For the record: A previous version of this story previously identified Borat’s daughter as Irina Novak. The actress is Maria Bakalova.