I had seen a promotional poster for funny man Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest project The Dictator a while back, and was intrigued to see him taking on a persona that would be a welcomed deviation, or return rather, from those of his most popular films Bruno (2009) and Borat (2006).
It seems that the world has already forgotten about Cohen’s most noteworthy persona Ali G, and this is strange seeing as Ali G was the character who kicked in the door for the sophisticated satire and play on the ignorance of every day people that has become Cohen’s trademark. Ali G, who first started his debauchery on the UK television series Da Ali G Show had everyone from cabinet members to Posh Spice talking about the most taboo subjects, not through gimmick or confusion, but because of the sheer plausibility of Ali G himself. It is Cohen’s profound talent to literally become his characters that made the quick mouth wannabe gangster Ali G capable of smashing barriers of seriousness with even the most strait faced guests, and Cohen has continued to show his gift’s versatility with the unexpected roles and titles he has acquired throughout the years.
The other characters that Cohen gave us after his Wu-Wearing, FUBU doo-rag donning, weed smoking, sex addicted, Jewish-Rastafarian creation Ali G were not as political in their satirical intent, despite how hard Cohen or the studio powers that be wanted them to seem. The zaney Kazastanian Borat seems to tackle issues of American ignorance and Xenophobia and Bruno does the same in respect to the nation’s homophobic tenancies and ‘can’t take a joke’ sexually conservative mentality, but both of these films are after something different then what Cohen set out to do with his first theatrical satire Ali G Indahouse (2002). Borat and Bruno are both characters whose comical resonance strives less upon the specific comment their interactions with ‘unsuspecting’ interviewees evokes, but rather more upon their own ludicrous behaviour (a failing for anyone who considers themselves a true satirist). Borat didn’t exploit this notion that badly, as Cohen was able to offer a decent mix of story, comical irony (if that’s what you can call two dudes 69ing in thongs), and outrageousness. But Bruno cannot focus upon following even a crazily coherent plot and instead just slings together a series of ridiculous scenarios and gags that show that seven years after Ali G, Cohen’s once unique comical ingenuity may be swaying in the mix of Hollywood’s expectations.
Seeing the trailer for The Dictator seems promising in one respect: Cohen is reverting back to his original obviously staged story telling style of Ali G, instead of sitting comfy in the more pseudo-reality style of Borat and Bruno. Still this trailer didn’t really have any scenes that had me thinking about them afterwards but what the hell as long as its not Cohen in a thong again….