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Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Year: 2020
Studio: Amazon
Director: Jason Woliner
Writer: Sacha Baron Cohen/Anthony Hines/Dan Swimer/Peter Baynham/Erica Rivinoja/Dan Mazer/Jena Friedman/Lee Kern/Nina Pedrad
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria Bakalova

Filmed in secret when the world was going into COVID19 lockdown, this movie was suddenly revealed at a time when political and social satire about America could hardly have been more needed.

We met Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen) doing hard labour, where's he's been imprisoned since the first film made his country an international laughing stock. The Premier unexpectedly releases him and gives him a new mission – deliver Kazakhstan's greatest film treasure, Johnny The Monkey – to US Vice President Mike Pence as a sign of goodwill to redeem the country in the eyes of the world.

When Borat returns to his village and prepares to leave, he finds he has a teenage daughter – kept in the barn – Tutar (Maria Bakalova). Intending to leave her where she belongs, Borat is sent in a crappy cargo ship all over the world to meet Johnny in America, only to discover Tutar has stowed away in the chimp's crate and eaten him along the journey.

Borat's only choice is to offer Tutar herself to Pence, a plan the feral young woman is overjoyed with because it will mean she gets to live in a golden cage just like the First Lady.

Borat and Tutar crisscross America to prepare her for Pence, which includes hair, fashion and a makeover. But when they're ejected from a convention Pence is attending, they move onto plan C. Having heard about Rudy Giuliani's having bragged about affairs with women with large breasts, the pair set about getting Tutar breast implants to gift her to Giuliani instead, which they have to raise the money for.

In the interim, Tutar spends time with a kindly woman who exposes her to the lies she's always been told about women by her culture. Not only are women allowed to drive cars, but the stories she knows from an official Kazakh text about raising girls – that they have vagina dentata and will lose fingers if they masturbate – are lies. Tutar realises her father and her entire culture has been subjugating her so she takes off, leaving Borat alone and facing a return home to be executed.

But the world around Borat changes dramatically. The streets empty, everyone in a panic about a scary new virus sweeping the world. He finds himself in the company of two reclusive Republican yokels, eventually discovering over the coming months that his daughter has become a successful journalist, so he sets about finding and reconnecting with her. It's only when he does and they return to Kazakhstan that Borat learns the awful (and hilarious) truth about his mission.

It doesn't have the same guerilla, smash and grab style as the original film. Cohen leans into the different worldview on his most successful character – when Borat first arrives in America he's now recognised everywhere, employing any number of campy disguises. But you also get the feeling that – Guiliani's notorious hotel bedroom sting notwithstanding – it's a lot more scripted, other members of the cast a lot more in on the joke.

All of which means it feels a little less subversive and a little less clever, with more of a planned narrative behind it. But it's no less funny than the original film, and Cohen (along with what looks like a bevy of co-writers) still uses the character to say very incisive things about modern America.

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