Here be spoilers…
What we like
I am still in awe that the team managed to pull off this movie. The character, Borat, is a cultural phenomenon. I've known people, to this day, still quote "very nice" or "my wife" in Borat's imitable Slavic accent, natch. Given how recognisable Cohen is, even under make-up and a fat suit, people are still duped. Take Who is America?, the 2018 series from Showtime, which had Cohen in disguise as he interviews personalities in America's political and cultural landscape.
Remember this gem?
Jason Spencer was a Republican to the Georgia House of Representatives. He is AN ACTUAL ELECTED OFFICIAL. After the episode aired, and after much criticism from his Republican colleagues and opposition, Spencer resigned from his post.
I'd assume that given the Cohen's notoriety and MO, anyone would be wary if approached for an interview from his camp but I was wrong. (It boggles the mind that Jerry Holleman and Jim Russell, who took Borat into their abode during the quarantine, is unaware of him even though they spent so much time on the Internet, doomscrolling through conspiracy theory and Qanon sites.) One of the ways that Cohen manages to pull off its interview is for Borat to go in disguise.
(To reiterate: Sacha Baron Cohen goes in character as Borat, who goes in disguise as a sound guy/Cliff Safari/John Chevrolet/Country Steve/many others—you can actually hear Borat's accent when he's in disguise.)
Given the constraints of Cohen's notoriety, one of the ways to get people to be interviewed is recruiting a member to his cause: Maria Bakalova. In the film, Bakalova plays Borat's daughter, Tutar and, instead of playing the foil, her character is fully realised. From her first appearance of a woman without rights (sleeps in a cage; not allowed to drive; at 15, she's considered as the "oldest unmarried woman in Kazakhstan") she finds her purpose, overcomes her obstacle and achieves her independence by becoming a journalist like her father.
The balls on Cohen. He has chutzpah but Bakalova holds her own in the film. She goes all in as Tutar and in the film's climax, where she meets with New York's ex-mayor, Rudy Giuliani; that proceeding is rather tense and, you have to wonder, what sort of prep work Bakalova did to get her through it. That infamous scene made the news before the release of the film and it's pretty damning but how much was edited to look the way it did? Cohen says that "It is what it is, he did what he did… it was pretty clear to us." We'll have to see what the aftermath of this would be.
While the mockumentary skewers America, it also dares to be hopeful. In one very telling moment is that heartfelt talk in the car between Tutar and her babysitter (don't ask), Jeanise Jones, who is, ultimately the film's chewy moral centre. She balks at Tutar's talk of subjugation and tells her otherwise, reaffirms her worth as a woman, as a human being. I'm glad that the producers chose to highlight her in this manner and also incorporate her as a turning point in Tutar's narrative arc.
The film manages to have a heart. Borat and Tutar become better people in the end (it's not much but its a start); it's a change that's more grounded, hopeful. If Borat can change, maybe America can as well?
What we didn't like
It didn't match up to the shock of the first film. When the first Borat movie came out in 2006, it was groundbreaking in the sense that Cohen's pranks and antics uncovered how prejudiced many of the subjects he interviewed were.
This time around? These sort of misogynistic, racist talking points are now commonplace. Many of these people don't even hide it. You hear these virulent viewpoints—sans irony—from many white, 'free-thinking', independents, who "tell it like it is".
These people are usually not shot down because their opinions are covered in the barest sheen of "truth" and, often, people laud them for their honesty. Like, how some admire Trump because of his "honesty", which is weird because screaming about how "all lives matter" when black lives didn't in the first place, paints you as "someone who is not afraid to cower to PC culture" instead of someone coming from a place of privilege. (Lai, I clap for you.)
You would think we, as a society, would be smarter, more progressive, but here we are, playing with sticks and stones in a machine world.
What to look out for
Hollywood's nicest man makes a cameo, as well as, Azamat Bagatov (Ken Davitian), Borat's long-suffering producer and friend, from the last moviefilm instalment. The latter is, uh, quite something.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is now out on Amazon Prime Video.