In 2006, Sasha Baron Cohen starred in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. It was about a bumbling foreign TV journalist who made sharp, satirical insight into American prejudices and shortcomings.
Three years later, he starred in Bruno. The character he portrayed was a flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion correspondent. It felt like he just wanted to shock the viewers, majority of which had negative response to the movie.
Now Baron Cohen is back with The Dictator. This is the first movie he stars that has an actual script instead of the mockumentaries that he did in the past. He plays the role of Admiral General Aladeen, who is the ruler of an oil-rich, fictional African nation called Wadiya.
Admiral General Aladeen has been the dictator of the nation since he was seven years old. He oppresses his people while he spends his time in the comfort of his palace. He orders the execution of his citizens even for the silliest offenses.
But when he travels to United States to speak before the United Nations, he is double-crossed by his right hand man, played by Ben Kingsley, and is forced to live like a commoner. He shaves his thick beard and ends up working at an organic grocery store in Brooklyn, which is owned by Zoey (Anna Faris).
Baron Cohen is reunited with Larry Charles, who also directed Borat and Bruno. The Dictator relies on crude sexual jokes and fish out of water pranks in order to be funny. It reminded those who already watched the movie of Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America. Baron Cohen is fully committed to the character. He dedicates The Dictator to Kim Jong Il. While there might be some people who will find the movie funny, this type of out-there satire has already run its course.