In 2006 Sacha Baron Cohen burst onto the big screen with "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" in which he played a TV reporter from Kazakhstan in the United States to make a documentary. During the visit he encounters various Americans imparting his strange cultural ways all while chasing down Pamela Anderson (whom he plans to marry).


The film was a huge success grossing $128 million domestically ($261 million worldwide) off a production cost of only $18 million. The story was gleaned from his British comedy show "Da Ali G Show" that was then re-produced on HBO for two seasons before being cut. He had already developed a sort of cult following that grew... and grew!


Naturally, that lead to a sequel, of sorts... "Bruno" which featured an Austrian fashionista who comes to the United States to make his fortune and encounters various Americans imparting his strange cultural ways. It didn't make nearly as much money as many in the LBG community were offended and - well - it just was very good. However, it did clock $138,805,831 worldwide which means only one thing... another shot at a movie.


Before I cast Cohen as a one trick pony, he has had other roles including the Police Inspector in Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" and as the fanciful rival barber in Tim Burton's "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street". Both of which had him cast perfectly! Yet her returns to the shtick that made him famous. Ergo...


"The Dictator" which has him in the role of a Middle East dictator named Aladeen who is trying to develop a nuclear arsenal while clinging precariously onto the countries vast oil reserves.


To avert war, he is invited to the United States to negotiate for democracy. So he and his cousin Tamir (Ben Kingsley) come to the U.S. where he is betrayed and left for dead. However, he escapes death and finds himself wandering the streets where he [you guessed it]... encounters various Americans imparting his strange cultural ways.


This time he encounters a kindhearted liberal named Zoey (Anna Faris) who takes him into her store filled with exiles, feeds him and offers him employment.


However, he is still a dictator even though he tries to "fit in" as an everyday guy. His style works at her store as he takes over and makes it more efficient. She falls for him. But his ruse is short lived when he is discovered by former nationalists whom he sentenced to execution.


There are some laugh out loud funny moments in the beginning and especially in the end - when he shows the difference between dictatorships and democracies. Anna Faris is charming as the goody-goody liberal. But

the film, directed by "Borat" and "Bruno" helmer Larry Charles, is more of the same shtick.


"The Dictator" is funny and at times hilarious. Sacha Baron Cohen took the safe route and parodied an acceptable target with appropriate offensiveness. Still not as good as "Borat", it will still sate his fans.   -- GEOFF BURTON