This comedy is as darkly hilarious, disturbingly crass, and incredibly fearless as you'd expect, and then some. In the 2000s, Sacha Baron Cohen gained fame and notoriety by taking Andy Kaufman-style put-on performance art to audacious and discomforting levels not seen since Kaufman's untimely passing. Through his different characters, he revealed the toxic mix of arrogance and ignorance that's come to define the dark side of 21st century America, so it's only fitting that Kazakhstan's most infamous reporter should reappear in the United States to experience the discord, division, and raging pandemic of 2020. That we can even be shocked by what Borat reveals in these scenes after months of exhausting news and caustic incivility alone makes it remarkable.
The credit for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm's dozens of laugh-out-loud moments isn't solely Baron Cohen's. It's a cliché to describe a performance as "Oscar-worthy," but as Borat's ambitious teenage daughter, Tutar, Bakalova delivers a brave performance that, in terms of fearlessness and gut laughter, gives her on-screen dad a run for his money. And just as Borat has proven adept at uncovering racism and anti-Semitism, Tutar (aka Sandra Jessica Parker Sagdiyev) brings out the appalling male creepiness in some, including and especially in one of the movie's most controversial scenes, which involves Rudy Giuliani in what is either a compromising position or an innocent effort at tucking in his shirt deep into his pants ... while on his back on a hotel room bed. How you view this incident will no doubt be as much of an ideological Rorschach test as anything else in contemporary American life, but, in the context of the rest of the movie, it evokes shock, disgust, and laughter in spite of everything. It's one of many such moments of gut-wrenching laughter in what's ultimately a brilliant mockumentary of an era that, for many, can't end soon enough.