By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Fourteen years later, actor/comedian Sacha Baron Cohen has returned as his most famous/infamous character, the often beloved, sometimes hated journalist from Kazakhstan named Borat. Call it serendipity or perfect timing, but Borat has returned to America at a crazy time. Going into this mockumentary, my obvious question was, how can Cohen pull it off again now that he is almost a household name? Well, the chameleonic actor still has a few tricks up his sleeve in additon to a new co-star who delivers a breakthrough performance.
After the initial release of his first film, Borat Sagdiyev did not achieve the great success he had anticipated. Instead of “making benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan,” the film’s portrayal of Borat and his people have brought great shame to his beloved country. After doing hard time and hard labor in prison, Borat is getting a second chance at glory. His government has tasked Borat with presenting a “prodigious” gift to the United States, hoping that this grand gesture will restore Kazakhstan to its former glory. As expected, there is a major snag in the plans, and Borat must replace the original gift with his fifteen year-old daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova). But before she can become the proper bride for Mike Pence, Tutar has much to learn about becoming the perfect American bride.
Directed by Jason Woliner, Borat 2 delivers hearty laughs, superbly executed pranks, and a good amount of shock and awe. Though not as extraordinary as the first film, the sequel definitely comes at the perfect time, when America is in dire need of a proper skewering. And that is exactly what Cohen does so well. Some of the stunts come across as staged, but the ones that feel all too real are the ones that will either make people fall on the floor laughing or have their jaws drop to the floor.
At this point, it should go without saying, but Sacha Baron Cohen is a tremendous actor and performer, and he is just as good here, as he is in the first film. To help pull off his stunts, Cohen needed someone else less recognizable to take over sometimes. Enter Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova. Though Bakalova is probably better recognized for acting in her home country, she is the perfect unknown in the United States to punk unsuspecting targets. Like Cohen, Bakalova, brings much heart and earnestness to her character. It is that straight-faced dedication that helps make these stunts successful. In addition, the introduction of her character, as well as her relationship with her father, further develop the Borat character.
The new Borat movie will be available for streaming on Amazon starting October 23. It is a movie I must hightly recommend for fans of the first film. Like I previously stated, I would not expect the exact same level of greatness from this sequel, but hell, all things considered, it comes pretty damn close.