The Dictator

Rated 2.0

A North African despot (Sacha Baron Cohen), visiting the United States, is replaced by a lookalike—part of a plot by his uncle (Ben Kingsley) to introduce democracy back home. Wandering the streets unrecognized, he meets and begins to fall for the owner of an organic grocery store (Anna Faris). The script by Cohen, Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer is a raunchy riff on The Prince and the Pauper with Cohen’s patented offend-everybody brand of tasteless jokes (the movie’s motto might be “Sick semper tyrannis!”). Cohen is a 21st century Andy Kaufman: he can vanish into his character, but (like Kaufman) without being naturally funny like, say, Robin Williams or Jim Carrey. Between genuine amusement (rare) and squirmy discomfort (frequent), there are enough laughs to satisfy Cohen’s fans—but only them. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated R.