What can I say about Sacha Baron Cohen that hasn’t been said a million times before?
You either love him or hate him. He’s the master of unstaged and unscripted ambush, confrontational comedy. And naturally, most of it’s pretty offensive by today’s PC standards.
The old DA ALI G SHOW followed by BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHAN and BRUNO certainly are proof of his obsession and his success.
But with THE DICTATOR Cohen ventures into uncharted territory.
Namely, scripted comedy using real actors. In this case Ben Kingsley and Anna Faris and a storyline of a tiny nation’s dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.
The movie opens in the Dictator’s home land of Wadiya—just minutes from Somalia—then rapidly moves to New York City where he will address the United Nations. But there’s a body double being substituted in a potential coup, forcing the real dictator to be stuck in the Big Apple trying to reclaim his identity.
Along the way connecting with local food co-op manager Zoe—bushy armpit hair and all – played by Anna Faris.
The movie’s very first frame on screen proclaims: "In Loving Memory Of Kim Jong-Il"
That pretty well sets the tone as Cohen as Admiral General Aladeen sets out to offend just about every race, creed and gender. And even though it’s scripted there’s plenty of improvisational and spontaneous pushing of the envelope to satisfy even the most twisted tastes.
Some fans have compared Cohen’s schtick to Andy Kaufman. You definitely see some of that in this movie.
As for the pacing?
It’s rapid fire punchlines. If one joke doesn’t meet your fancy, don’t worry, there’s another one coming in mere seconds.
Going into last week’s screening I figured there was nothing fresh to be had.
Was I ever wrong. I found myself laughing throughout the movie’s relatively short running time of just 84 minutes.
And yes, there are at least two major scenes that’ll have moviegoers squirming in their seats. They did me!
Sacha Baron Cohen fans won’t be disappointed with THE DICTATOR, as the king of culture shock offers up a cameo laden cinematic romp of offensive proportions.
I’m raising 3 out of 5 tyrannic fingers.
Sidebar: Anna Faris told me at CinemaCon that her hairy armpits on the set caused quite the stares in New York. Especially when she took breaks from filming and ventured around the neighborhood and didn’t want to go through the process of taking off the bushels of hair—only having to re-apply them a short time later.
JACK GOES TO THE MOVIES–Friday mornings at 6:40 a.m. on NewsRadio KMBZ Am & Fm and anytime on Time-Warner Cable’s K.C. ON DEMAND, Channel 411