ZombieTrex’s review published on Letterboxd:
Borat never really came off as a movie that needed a sequel. In fact, it seemed straight up impossible to even make one. With how iconic the titular character has become, how would Sacha Baron Cohen be able to replicate the formula of deception from the first film without anyone recognizing him? And even, then the story of the original felt very contained and straightforward, with seemingly no real need for continuation. But alas, Borat has returned with Subsequent Moviefilm, which, in my opinion, completely fails to measure up to its legendary predecessor, retaining none of what made it great…
(Sorry, I had to).
Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm stands on par with the original, and in a few instances, can actually outshine it. While I didn’t find it to be quite as hysterical as the original, it has a surprisingly better story that adapts well around real-world events, as well as having a decent amount of character development.
The film centers around Borat, who, after being jailed because of the first film’s success embarrassing Kazakhstan, has been given the task of giving a gift to the president of the United States in order to make Kazakhstan a powerful country. He decides to give the president his daughter, who stowed away on the journey. It's about as outrageous as it sounds, but that’s why it works so well. I would honestly say that this film’s story is one of its best assets. As great as the first film was, it mostly felt like a loosely connected vignette of skits cobbled together into a story. It worked for what it was, but it wasn’t particularly cohesive. The filmmakers were actually able to create a more flowing narrative with Subsequent Moviefilm, allowing the story to be well paced and more engaging. Every skit feels like it advances the overall story, which is made all the more impressive by how well the writers are able to adapt to what’s thrown at them. They work unexpected events like the Coronavirus pandemic into the plot so well you’d assume they were planned from the beginning. This all culminates in one of the funniest, yet most genius endings I’ve ever seen for a comedy film.
Another improved aspect to the film is the characters. Borat actually goes through a bit of an arc in this film, which is something that sort of happened in the first movie, but not really. Here, you actually see Borat start to learn some of the error of his ways, which is pulled off surprisingly naturally. He’s still a fundamentally flawed person, but he does start to change for the better. It is kinda nice to see him grow a relationship with his daughter over the course of the story, and eventually save her from Rudy Giuliani. None of this is groundbreaking stuff, but it is a really nice inclusion.
While I do stand by the opinion that this film isn’t as funny as the first film, it is really damn funny. We still get to see Sacha Baron Cohen getting ordinary people to say really regrettable stuff, but here, there seems to be a bigger emphasis on larger scale pranks. The obvious crown jewel is Borat going to the RNC to try and give Mike Pence his daughter. It just boggles my mind how they were able to pull stuff like that off without slipping up. A lot of the gags like that are genuinely really impressive here. I’ll admit that the film just doesn’t have quite as many hilarious gags as the first, which does hold it back a bit. But with how jampacked Borat 1 was with iconic jokes, getting even a fraction of that amount is well worth the asking price.
So often we see sequels to films come out years after the original, with them failing to realize what made the original appealing in the first place. That was part of my fears going into Borat 2, and thankfully, the creators knew exactly what to do with this iconic character. While it isn’t as funny as the first, Subsequent Moviefilm builds on its predecessor with a better story, better characters, and quite frankly, just being more socially relevant than ever before.