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Movie review: Sacha shocks in new way in 'Dictator'

Published May 16, 2012 10:26 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

"The Dictator" (opening in theaters today) doesn't have the same bite that Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat" did - but it does mix raunchy humor with a scathing message, all the same.

Baron Cohen plays Admiral General Aladeen, the vain and none-too-bright ruler of a North African country that is aiming to develop its own nuclear-weapons program. When Aladeen goes to New York to speak to the UN, he is instead betrayed by his No. 2 (Ben Kingsley), and delivered to a CIA torturer (John C. Reilly). Aladeen escapes, minus his beard, and is befriended by a leftie activist (Anna Faris), while he tries to reclaim power.

Director Larry Charles builds a conventional comedy format around this character, which is a bit of a disappointment after the groundbreaking work he and Baron Cohen have done in "Borat" and "Bruno." Still, Baron Cohen's offensive comedy still earns a lot of laughs - and Aladeen's final speech, a satiric spin on Charlie Chaplin's famous finale from "The Great Dictator," is a treat.