Sacha Baron Cohen in 'Borat Subsequent Moviefilm'.
(Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios)
Like any sequel, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" faces the challenge of what to do for an encore, after hitting a huge box office 14 years ago.
Somehow, though, Sacha Baron Cohen hasn't lost the power to deliver bold surprises, with enough explosive laughs, not suitable for anywhere, to cut through the flatter patches that this type of exercise inevitably produces.
Success has not spoiled "Borat", but it has complicated the process of becoming him.
Even taking into account the fact that he may not always be the character (he's too recognizable, as the movie illustrates), the comic provocateur still finds unconscious marks.
Smarter viewers might end up wondering about the waivers that allowed these people to appear on camera or on the teams of attorneys involved.
But with Cohen, making an omelette requires breaking some eggs.
Logistics aside, Cohen (part of an accredited team of eight writers) and director Jason Woliner have managed to come up with a clever premise that explains Borat's belated return to America, on a mission to deliver a gift to Vice President Mike. Pence in order to win the favor of the Trump administration and avoid a death sentence in his native Kazakhstan.
As fans of the original film will recall, the fictional version of Kazakhstan is not a particularly enlightened place, with such backward attitudes toward women that Borat refers to his daughter as his "non-male child."
Still, through a series of bizarre circumstances, teenage Tutar (newcomer Maria Bakalova) shows up on the journey, offering an old-fashioned father-daughter bonding experience as the backbone of all the exaggerated antics and exploits. .
The less you give away, the better.
But once again (in a way the star has perfected over the years, including on his "Who is America?" Series), Cohen engages people fearlessly in absolutely crazy situations.
That can range from a baker placing an anti-Semitic inscription on a cake to a consultation with a plastic surgeon to asking a clothing store owner where to find the "no means yes" section.
That also means criticizing various Trump supporters, both famous and ordinary.
Reports have previously emerged of Cohen's encounter with Rudy Giuliani, which as portrayed in the film is strange, awkward, and difficult to decipher clearly, even by the standards of the comedian's story of news clashes with political figures.
It almost goes without saying, but this »Subsequent Moviefilm» delights in being as raw and offensive as Borat's first adventure.
Therefore, a sequence shot at a debutante ball is both horrible and heartbreaking.
And those more inclined to cower in fear than laugh may want to skip the experience.
Of course, this "Borat" will reach homes through Amazon, a sign of the pandemic that, yes, overlapped with production and is incorporated into the film.
Given that the original was a smash hit on a very modest budget, it feels like a genuine achievement for the streaming service, although Cohen's humor is clearly not for faint-hearted partners.
Despite its catchphrase, "Borat" is not always very pleasant.
In fact, the material is pointed, and you are sometimes guilty of working too hard to make an impact.
At its best, however, the twisted mirror that Cohen shows America from Borat's point of view is revealing and, like the "movie" before it, is very, very funny.
"Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" opens October 23 on Amazon.