Cohen packs a weak punch

Tamir (Ben Kingsley, left) and The Dictator (center) in THE DICTATOR, from Paramount Pictures.'FD-33960
Tamir (Ben Kingsley, left) and The Dictator (center) in THE DICTATOR, from Paramount Pictures.'FD-33960

A FASCIST dictator who rules his country with an army of beautiful women in mini-skirts and calls himself the ‘Beloved Oppressor and Ruthless Protector’ is Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest satirical creation that plans to gob-smack audiences into submission.

The Dictator – which follows suit with Baron Cohen’s previous character-driven films Ali G and Borat – is fuelled again by his unequivocal enjoyment of rubbing the taboos and prejudices of conservative western society in its face.

Dictator Aladeen – whose ego far outweighs his intellect – is the ruler of north African fictional country Wadiya and travels to the UN headquarters in New York to address the council.

His plans go terribly wrong when he is kidnapped under the instructions of his uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley) and left beardless and stripped of his despot finery in the streets of the Big Apple.

With the unlikely alliance of humanitarian activist Zoey (Anna Faris), who offers him a job at her alternative lifestyle co-op, he hatches a plan to get back into power and overthrow the impersonator his uncle has hired to sign a document democratising Wadiya.

As is a common trait of Baron Cohen’s films, The Dictator takes sharp and unexpected turns that command you to laugh out loud.

Sometimes it does feel like you are part of an oppressive regime that orders that you find his eccentric and mocking sense of humour funny – purely because it’s worked in the past.

His previous films were successful because audiences are easily shocked by a new comic on the scene pushing the boundaries of silver screen humour in surround sound.

But this is his third film with director Larry Charles and with expectations spiked for rude, crude and nude messages about a subject which has the potential to offend thousands, this movie doesn’t have the shock factor it needs to be a smash hit, and ever so slightly falls short on wit and satirical stamina.

Baron Cohen is going to have to find a different style to give the punch his fans now expect.