8/10 Coming a full 14 years after the first Borat film swept America by storm (and holds up well upon a recent rewatch), Sacha Baron Cohen returns as the titular character that skyrocketed his career a decade and a half ago. Overall, this is a welcome addition to Borat’s adventures and if there isn’t a third film 14 years from now, we should be glad we have two hilarious films to look back on with fondness. Like the first film, this is extremely vulgar which you can easily tell by looking at the film’s hard R rating reasons. The biggest reason this film works so well is because it is flat out funny. Surprisingly, it was the written script, jokes and wordplay that made me laugh harder than the awkward interactions with real life people, although those were funny as well. The score perfectly sets the Kazakhstan vibes and the Kazak versions of hit songs are catchy and fitting. The few performances from our lead performers that the film has are extremely dedicated and talented. How Cohen and Maria Bakalova (playing his daughter Tutar) are able to keep a straight face and not break character all while improvising is massively impressive. Newcomer Bakalova steals the spotlight with every scene she is in and is the perfect, kind hearted balance to the ignorant character of Borat. Their relationship is the heart of the film and it works well. The overarching plot of traveling to America to sell her (which is secretly for something else as the ending reveals) is well done and hilarious and I love how the film even addresses head on how people on the streets would see Cohen as Borat and ask for autographs and high fives. Since everyone now knows he plays this character, having him take other disguises and directly address his “great success” and fame in America was the smart move. As for the film’s couple of problems, the biggest is its politics. The first Borat film never got too political (the rodeo scene was the closest that film came) but here it feels like the only reason this film was made and released in 2020 was to attack Trump, his administration and his supporters. While I definitely appreciate all humor, aimed at Trump or not, there is a lot of selective editing, misinformation and some TDS sprinkled in that hurts the film and makes it less accessible to a wider audience. The film is still hilarious (Borat’s song he sings at a conservative rally is great) but it comes off as politically desperate. Finally, as is the case with anyone filmed with real people, it is easy to cherry pick the dumbest people or whichever ones will push your narrative forward and this film is no different. Despite the forced, misleading political nature and cherry picked interviews, this is a gut busting, uproarious good time that, if you are politically incorrect like I am, you can enjoy multiple laughs that we could all use after a rough year. VERY NICE!
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