Following Borat and Brüno, Sacha Baron Cohen once again sends forth a blundering foreigner to cause mischief and mayhem in America.
Reuniting with director Larry Charles, Cohen this time has abandoned the spoof documentary format of their previous films to create a far more conventional comic vehicle for his latest screen alter ego – a slapstick version of Arab dictators such as Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi.
Cohen’s General Admiral Haffaz Aladeen, despotic and idiotic ruler of the fictional North African country of Wadiya, falls victim to a plot by his scheming second-in-command (Ben Kingsley) while visiting to New York to address the UN.
He ends up replaced by his body double and, shorn of his distinctive beard and now unrecognisable, he finds refuge with lefty vegetarian feminist Zoey (Anna Faris) while he schemes to regain power.
Though a lot of the jokes are predictable, there are a few standout sequences that show off the star’s gifts for physical and verbal comedy.
There’s an outstanding sequence when he goes on a helicopter ride with a couple of American tourists who think he’s a terrorist, a hilarious sequence when he rubbishes John C Reilly’s instruments of torture and there’s one speech, in which he unwittingly draws parallels between a repressive dictatorship and the present-day US, that has genuine satirical bite.