Sacha Baron Cohen is one of the few British Jews to venture successfully into the comedy of shock,” writes New Yorker critic Anthony Lane in one of the oddest Borat reviews I’ve read so far. “[The] defense of Borat as an unwitting scourge of the reactionary — unearthing Midwestern beliefs no less parochial than those he left behind in Kazakhstan — is sound as far as it goes. But the movie goes further. It is equipped, like an F-15 Eagle, to engage multiple targets at once.”
And here’s where the curious umbrage kicks in. I can’t quite figure where Lane is really coming from deep down, but he isn’t very pleased with what Cohen’s up to, that’s for sure.
“If you can’t bear to hear Alan Keyes — whom Borat interviews, and who, like most of the participants, has no idea what he is dealing with — described as a ‘genuine chocolate-face,’ then for pity’s sake stay home. As for the scene in which Borat smooches a blond woman before introducing her as his sister, the ‘number-four prostitute in all of Kazakhstan,’ it is, like most of the film’s lavatorial gags, both daring you to gawk and forcing you to look away.
“What game is Baron Cohen playing, exactly, when he shows mock footage of an annual Kazakh ceremony known as ‘the Running of the Jew,’ in which children kick a giant egg to bits, to stop ‘the Jew chick’ from being hatched?”