"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.
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