If you’re ever looking for the epitome of cringeworthy and controversial cinema, look no further than master of disguise Sacha Baron Cohen. His unique brand of edgy comedy firmly driven by politics has been channeled through the ridiculous on screen creations of Borat, Bruno and Ali G, leaving audiences in shock and hysterics. Collaborating once again with director Larry Charles, his latest comic assault comes through the warped and outdated views of a North African dictator called General Aladeen.
Ditching the mock-documentary feel of Cohen’s predecessors, The Dictator is easily his most ‘Hollywood style’ film as far as the conventional plotline goes. Aladeen is quite simply a classic tyrannical figure who has an unhealthy love for building weapons of mass destruction, shows no remorse over executions and is overwhelmingly offensive to every ethnic minority on planet Earth. Continuously aided by his associate [Sir Ben Kingsley] , his antics ultimately lead him to the US of A with the likes of John C.Reilly desperately attempting to instill a sense of democracy to the state of Wadiya.
A sudden turn of events leaves him powerless, isolated and with no dangly beard. Whilst the plot to uproot him from his pedestal unravels, his secret weapon to bounce back lies in the form of an ‘easy being green’ feminist and grocery worker Zoey (Anna Faris).
‘The Dictator’ completely revels in its immature nature and is all the better for it. There’s a few neat throwbacks to the old days of screwball comedy, with a running joke involving surnames made up of bizarre signs being a particular highlight. With Cohen involved though, you know you’re gonna be treated to a outrageous barrage of grossout gags and close to the knuckle one liners. Yet again, they consistently hit the mark and there is no over-reliance on the ‘novelty shock tactics’ that plagued ‘Bruno’.
The key flaw only lies in Cohen’s satiricial sharpness this time around. The only real sense of social commentary on display lies in the latter stages, where Aladeen starts preaching that America should shed it’s badge of ‘democracy’ and follow his glowing example.
In addition, the majority of the cast play second fiddle to Cohen, with only Faris making a noticeable stamp. Although.. there is an inspired cameo to look out for involving a sexually confused Chinese democrat!
The odd misfire aside, The Dictator nonetheless is a thoroughly entertaining offering from the Cohen cannon.