It wouldn't be an overstatement to say that Sacha Baron Cohen's comedic sense is genius. It's crude and vulgar, but also genius. As with his previous characters -- Ali G, Borat and Bruno -- Baron Cohen's latest uniformed buffoon makes jokes about racist, sexist and antisemitic attitudes. He teases out in people the opinions that are unfortunately still very much a part of the world, even if they aren't expressed as genuinely as they are felt.

 

This time Baron Cohen plays Admiral General Aladeen, the leader of the African nation of Wadiya. When he travels to New York to speak to the U.N., he finds that there are detractors within the ranks who are seeking to overthrow him. Replaced by a lookalike, he takes up work at a local health food co-op, run by neo-hippie Zoey (Anna Faris) in the hopes of weaseling his way back into control of his country.

 

Baron Cohen's greatest success was with "Borat" in which, while playing a TV host from Kazakhstan, he pounced on unassuming non-actors and their firmly held beliefs. As talented of a screenwriter as he is, that kind of spontaneity is where Baron Cohen truly shines. "The Dictator" is hilarious, wise and stunningly appropriate for the time we live in, but Baron Cohen does his best when he can flay unsuspecting victims by luring them into believing he is just as closed-minded as they are.

 

'The Dictator'

Director: Larry Charles

Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Anna Faris

Rating: R

Grade: 4/5