Fourteen years since first punking unsuspecting Americans and exposing their prejudices in “Borat,” Sacha Baron Cohen returns to the role of Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev in the sequel “Borat Subsequent Movie Film: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” with hilarious envelope-pushing results.
Cohen, who won a Golden Globe and earned an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for the 2006 original, continues to use irony and parody to expose anti-Semitism, homophobia, and racism while skewering the current administration in the sequel, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. In the plot, Borat is freed from the gulag and sent back to the United States with a gift designed to win favor with the White House for the Kazakh dictator. Things go ridiculously awry, but every outrageous stunt, disguise and elaborate set piece makes a point.
“My aim here was not to expose racism and anti-Semitism,” he said of the sequel. “The aim is to make people laugh, but we reveal the dangerous slide to authoritarianism,” Cohen told the New York Times. He can be heard speaking gibberish amalgam of Polish and Hebrew in his version of the Kazakh language in the film.
“My aim here was not to expose racism and anti-Semitism. The aim is to make people laugh, but we reveal the dangerous slide to authoritarianism.” — Sacha Baron Cohen
Shot in secrecy during the coronavirus pandemic and fast-tracked to be released before the election, the movie required Cohen to stay disguised even when the cameras stopped rolling. “The hardest thing I had to do was I lived in character for five days in this lockdown house. I was waking up, having breakfast, lunch, dinner, going to sleep as Borat when I lived in a house with these two conspiracy theorists,” he said. “You can’t have a moment out of character.”
Cohen also puts his comic talents to use as Abbie Hoffman in the Netflix miniseries “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” about the uprising at the Democratic National Convention in 1968. “Essentially, he was trying to be a stand-up comedian,” Cohen said about the Yippie leader. “He was very influenced by Lenny Bruce and he realized that if he could make people laugh, he could get them engaged in the cause.”