With The Dictator, Sacha Baron Cohen is bringing his latest offensive and out-of-place character to the bring screen in a new way – scripted comedy. While the unscripted candid shtick worked really well for Borat, because he’d made his presence well-known, he couldn’t get away with as much of it in Bruno – which is presumably why he’s gone the scripted route with The Dictator. It’s my proud honor to inform you that it’s the funniest thing he’s done since Borat.
Early teasers for The Dictator only revealed footage that could easily lead you to believe that it was unscripted; however, all of that footage is from the opening of the film which is made to look like a newscast of real footage. After the intro to Baron Cohen’s latest character, cruel dictator Admiral General Aladeen of the fictitious terrorist-sympathizing nation Wadiya, we quickly learn the premise. Aladeen has been summoned to a U.N. hearing in New York City. Prior to making his speech, his greedy uncle (Ben Kingsley) tries having Aladeen assassinated so that he change Wadiya to a democracy and introduce capitalism via Aladeen’s dim-witted body. Aladeen escapes the assassination attempt, but loses his iconic beard in the process. Without anyone believing the wild claims of his identity, Aladeen is now stranded in NYC with only three days to find a way to get back into office.
The Dictator isn’t nearly as edgy and offensive as Borat and Bruno, but it’s still not a movie for those easily offended. Osama bin Laden not being dead and 9/11 are frequent topics of jokes. Not all of the comedy sticks, some of it dabbling in Adam Sandler territory, but the gags and jokes that do stick their landings entirely make up for the failures. Two separate occasions brought me to tears because I was laughing so hard. And to top it all off, The Dictator ends with a major slug in America’s political gut that rings a little too true.
If you love Sacha Baron Cohen, The Dictator makes up his failure with Bruno. If you don’t know his brand of comedy, this is great time to jump aboard. And if Sacha Baron Cohen is someone who’s style doesn’t appeal to you, it’s time to give him a shot again. According to Admiral General Aladeen, you are commanded to see The Dictator!
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures