Sacha Baron Cohen's 'The Dictator:' It doesn't look like 'Borat'
"The Dictator" involves several of the main players from "Borat" (star-writer Sacha Baron Cohen, director Larry Charles) and also tells of the foibles of the foreign-born. But fans are hoping — and studio Paramount seems keen to impress — that the May movie, which has Baron Cohen playing both a deposed foreign dictator and a goat herder, is a lot more than a "Borat" retread.
Several new images suggest that, visually at least, "The Dictator" has put some distance between itself and the 2006 hit. Earlier this week came a paparazzi photo of Baron Cohen, clad in a patriotic jumpsuit, on a New York set, which at least made clear that the film has a set, with little of the on-the-road gonzo tactics of "Borat."
Now Paramount has put out the first official image for the film — that's it to the left — and it shows a character who has much more in common with a Middle Eastern despot than the deluded Eastern European peasant from "Borat." Note the Kadafi-like epaulets, which raises the question of how much the film will echo the real-world dictators thrown to the fore of the news cycle in the recent Arab Spring.
(The film is putatively based on a novel written by Saddam Hussein, who makes a somewhat less sensitive target.)
No doubt the finished film will include accents and cringe-worthy moments and other elements that characterized "Borat." But "The Dictator" may not want to distance itself too much — "Borat" was kinda beloved.
— Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Sacha Baron Cohen in "The Dictator." Credit: Paramount Pictures.