Borat returns in slightly uneven sequel

Sacha Baron Cohen appears in a scene from “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.”

Sacha Baron Cohen brings his Borat character out of retirement for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” the sequel to the 2006 comedy smash.

Cohen uses this character once again to put his finger squarely on the pulse of the American political climate. And while “Moviefilm” lacks the comic consistency and biting satire that made the first film work so well, there is still enough here to appreciate the effort – and concede that fans of Borat will likely be satisfied with the end result.

“Moviefilm” once again follows a Kazakhstani TV reporter named Borat (Cohen) who is now living in his homeland disgraced after the events of the first film.

Borat is given a chance at redemption – a secret mission to return to the United States and offer a gift from Kazakstan that will help the country get in good graces with President Donald Trump.

Borat sets out on the mission, but things go awry when his daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova) makes the trip as a stowaway – forcing Borat to adjust his plans.

Like the original film, the plot is just a launching point to do what Cohen does best – wander America as this narrow-minded, racist, sexist, bigoted character and expose the worst – or in a few cases best – in all of us.

Cohen interacts with real-life people – at least I think all of these people are real – and creates outlandish situations that lead to some cringe-worthy moments. While the first film seemed to be more consistent with the laughs, Cohen’s attempts here – which include everything from crashing Vice President Mike Pence’s speech dressed as Trump to living with conspiracy theorists in the midst of the coronavirus lockdown – are more hit and miss.

The best moment comes when Borat crashes a right-wing rally and leads the crowd in a song that is pretty outlandish.

To Cohen’s credit, he is willing to take a back seat as Borat – probably realizing that it’s not easy to go unnoticed as that character – and allow the film’s true highlights to come at Bakalova’s expense.

She tackles the hidden camera absurdity with the same energy as Cohen, providing “Moviefilm” with the laughs and satire that rivals the original. Whether it is doing a ridiculous dance at a debutante ball or doing a one-on-one interview with a prominent political figure – Bakalova never seems out of place, capable of doing the same kind of hidden camera hijinks that Cohen mastered.

Borat may be the name on the marquee, but it is Bakalova as his daughter who is the real star of “Moviefilm” – providing the spark that lifts this from potential disappointment.

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