If there’s one thing I admire about Sacha Baron Cohen, it’s his uncanny ability to always get a laugh out of his audience. The English actor and comedian, whose award-winning “Da Ali G Show” launched a television comedy career to be reckoned with, has what some would refer to as “funny bones,” although perhaps those bones belong to his ingeniously conceived characters. In the world of cinema, Cohen deservedly found international success with his “Borat” and “Brüno,” both satirical mockumentaries whose comedy value relied almost entirely on the reactions of unsuspecting members of the American public to Cohen’s comically uncouth titular creations – a culturally confused Kazakh journalist and a gay Austrian fashion reporter, respectively. I should note that very few of Cohen’s innocent victims found him particularly amusing.
His latest work is not a mockumentary, perhaps because Cohen’s global fame/infamy has rendered his face all too recognisable for the reactive gags to work – ah, the price of stardom. “The Dictator” is instead a wholly scripted production (some probable improvisation aside), Cohen’s first since his debut starring role in the sporadically funny “Ali G Indahouse.” Notably, the film’s title dares comparison with Charlie Chaplin’s masterful 1940 Adolf Hitler satire “The Great Dictator.” And while Cohen’s latest cinematic conception never quite climbs to the heights of a great dictator, it sits comfortably at the level of a decent dictator – although Admiral General Aladeen is anything but decent. (Continue Reading…)