Wesley Stenzel’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sacha Baron Cohen is the Tom Cruise of comedy — he’s absolutely fearless in his commitment to his craft, and I’d be deeply saddened but entirely unsurprised to learn that he died while filming one of his outrageous stunts. SBC’s unparalleled audacity made the original Borat a unique piece in the pop cultural landscape, as his willingness to go anywhere and say anything to anyone provided ample opportunities for real-world humor rooted in disturbing prejudicial realities.
Fourteen years later, Baron Cohen has successfully recaptured the hilarity of his original movie in Subsequent Moviefilm, with decidedly clearer focus. The first Borat was a broad trek through the most bizarre pockets of American culture that consisted of loosely-connected segments; the sequel utilizes a stronger narrative through-line that emphasizes fatherhood, truth, and a consistent skewering of Trumpism.
Maria Bakalova’s Tutar serves as the heart of the movie — she propels its narrative and also provides some of its funniest moments. Bakalova’s comedic talent and boldness both rival those of her on-screen father, and her position as a complete unknown allows her to partake in numerous situations that Baron Cohen cannot. Her presence here is the key to the film’s success — she makes the project feel like a distinct, original, and entirely worthwhile movie instead of a disappointingly repetitive sequel.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm may end up being one of the defining movies encapsulating Trump’s America and its mishandling of COVID-19. The film’s repeated references to the sitting president and his associates will work against its reputation as it ages, but in this moment, its timeliness enhances its humor and makes the film’s very existence seem like a miracle.