Tag: Sacha Baron Cohen
Directors: Larry Charles
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Jason Mantzoukas, Anna Faris
SACHA Baron Cohen’s personalised brand of ‘love it or hate it’ humour has come a long way since the street-not-so-wise antics of his retired Ali G character. With The Dictator, the raw social-commentary humour offered by the likes of Borat and Brüno has been somewhat organised thanks to the presence of fully scripted events.
That’s not to say that Cohen’s General Aladeen character is always on script, though, with many lines that seem to come off the cuff; sometimes to the point where the supporting cast momentarily drop character along with their jaws.
If you thought that Borat or Brüno were offensive, nothing has changed to make Cohen’s in-your-face comedy antics more accessible. In fact, if anything, The Dictator has the most potential to offend out of any of Cohen’s previous clownish personas. The chances are good, though, that you’re reading this review to see if The Dictator can hold up to the consistent laughs of Borat or Brüno.
The answer is, yes and no. The Dictator falls flat in some of the sequences that come across as though Cohen and co have stuck too closely to what’s scripted and, thus, what doesn’t come naturally to this type of comedy. But when General Aladeen is firing on all naively offensive cylinders, The Dictator reaps some of the biggest laughs out of his films to date.
Plot is light in the form of General Aladeen attempting to keep the ‘scourge’ of democracy out of his beloved dictatorship in the fictional Republic of Wadiya. Aladeen is forced to travel to America to address rumours that he’s constructing a nuclear weapon. As would be imagined, the lens that Aladeen sees the world through doesn’t quite match up to the freedom-loving values of the US of A.
While there are several genuinely hilarious cameos that would be spoiled by calling out, it’s the main supporting characters—Tamir (Kingsley), Zoey (Faris) and Nadal (Mantzoukas )—that help keep the energy high and provide Cohen with plenty of complementary comedic strength to bounce off.
Faris does a solid job of playing Aladeen’s love interest Zoey, which includes the return of her patented wide-mouthed shock face. Mantzoukas offers solid comedic chemistry with Cohen that makes their shared scenes hilarious, but it’s Kingsley’s straight-man Tamir that takes the cake, if only because it’s so odd seeing him in such a ridiculous film and somehow managing to keep a straight face throughout the madness.
After the comedic dust settles, The Dictator stands as a film that will solidify your existing feelings towards Sacha Baron Cohen’s outlandish chracters. If you don’t find him funny, you’ll probably find him less funny after you leave the cinema. If you love his style of boundary-pushing humour, though, the chances are good that you’ll love The Dictator and should find more laughs in it than any other comedy released this year.
THE DICTATOR is in cinemas now.
Review: Nathan Lawrence