Cohen's 'Dictator' least-focused yet
By Christy Lemire, The Associated Press
June 15, 2012, 5:59 pm TWN
In analyzing Sacha Baron Cohen and the array of offbeat characters he's created, it's clear that it's become a matter of diminishing returns.
In 2006's “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” the observations of his bumbling, thoroughly inappropriate foreign TV journalist provided sharp, satirical insight into our prejudices and foibles.
Three years later, “Bruno” felt like a one-note gimmick, with his flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion correspondent merely trying to shock everyone with his flamboyant gayness.
Now, Baron Cohen is back with “The Dictator,” his least-focused film yet, despite the fact that it has an actual script compared to the guerrillastyle mockumentaries that preceded it.
Baron Cohen stars as Admiral General Aladeen, who has ruled the oil-rich, fictitious North African nation of Wadiya cruelly and cluelessly since he was seven years old. Aladeen oppresses his people from the comfort of his sprawling, opulent palace, sleeps with movie stars (including Megan Fox in a cameo) and orders the execution of his underlings for the silliest of perceived offenses.
But when he travels to New York to make a speech before the United Nations, he finds he's been double-crossed by his right-hand man (Ben Kingsley) and forced to survive as a commoner.
Stripped of his trademark thick beard, Aladeen is rendered unrecognizable and ends up working at an organic grocery store in Brooklyn run by the androgynous, ultra-politically correct Zoey (Anna Faris, who's nearly unrecognizable herself with short, dark hair).