I think Socha Baron Cohen does funny work. I enjoyed Borat and Bruno, although this movie isn’t as funny as those, it’s a bit more of a mainstream film. It has a plot that includes a love interest and fish-out-of-water moments – and doesn’t just rely on his trademark of tricking people that don’t know he’s in character.
I have no idea how he grabbed the talented Ben Kingsley to be in this, but he’s perfect in his part – as the guy that should’ve inherited the thrown of this North African country of Wadiya. It’s instead being ruled by this evil dictator who won’t think twice about beheading you for making a bomb to rounded on the top.
Anna Faris is great as the love interest and manager of the Free Earth Collective. It’s the type of grocery store you’d find in North Park.
John C. Reilly has a fun scene, as does indie actor Kevin Corrigan. Edward Norton walks out of a room in what could be the best cameo of the year.
Many Saturday Night Live cast members pop up in small roles, and many times this film feels like an SNL bit that went on for 90 minutes. What’s surprising is that it’s generally getting good reviews. If Adam Sandler or Rob Schneider had done the same movie, in the role of this dictator, I’m guessing it would be panned.
Not since Helena Bonham Carter was beheading people in Alice in Wonderland, have we had so many laughs at a mean person decapitating people. The reasons get more trivial as we watch him running around his palace.
There are times in this movie you’ll laugh, and wonder why you did. I had those same feelings watching Bruno. Those times in this would include a bizarre high-wire scene, a decapitated head used as a puppet, and a close up of Cohen licking Faris that will shock the audience.
And how can we not appreciate this foreign dictator screaming about the $20 a hotel charges for internet access, or the price of booze in the mini bar?
I also found all the popular songs done in another language, really added a humorous element. The ones that come to mind are Let’s Get it On (for the love scene), 9 to 5 (for when Cohen starts working at the Free Earth Collective), and Everybody Hurts (when he’s walking the streets of New York hurt).
This movie isn’t for the easily offended.
It’s certainly not The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin), but hey – for a comedy in 2012, you could do worse.
2 ½ stars out of 5.