Update: Scroll down for the most subtle reference in The Dictator‘s marketing.
Way, way back in the early 2000s, when media prankster Sacha Baron Cohen first began his Ali G. routine, the idea of a comedic actor who went out into the real world as his characters was ingenious. It was like Method acting meets guerrilla theater meets Improv Everywhere (with a little Andy Kaufman thrown in for good measure).
But now we’re all old and grey, and Mr. Cohen’s popularity in America after Bruno and Borat means that no one will fall for his pranks anymore, mostly because he’s too recognizable. It would be like Ashton Kutcher (or Justin Bieber, or Nick Cannon) showing up to “punk” you. And despite the fact that British comedian’s new film, The Dictator, is entirely scripted and does not necessitate any sort of “man on the street” pranks, Mr. Cohen can not, will not, let his old habits die. Even when they really, really should.
We know it must be hard for Sacha Baron Cohen to top his Academy Award red carpet stunt, when he showed up in-character as General Aladeen of the Republic of Wadiya. After dumping Kim Jong Il’s ashes all over Ryan Seacrest he was escorted off the scene by security guards who may or may not have been in on the viral marketing hoax for his film The Dictator.
Still, we were hoping for a little more from the actual trailer for the film, released yesterday. With both Borat and Bruno, Mr. Cohen proved he could shock audiences with his mockumentary format. But bottle his genius into a scripted comedy, and you end up with a trailer that looks like You Don’t Mess with the Zohan but with more jokes about blowing up the Empire State State building.
Spring Arts Preview
The Hunger Games (Gary Ross) March 23
Your children have been refreshing Fandango daily to see if tickets are available yet for the movie based on Suzanne Collins’ kiddie novels—think of them as Twilight, except with actual murder instead of benign vampirism. Games promises a chaste love triangle and lots of angst for the tween Read More
The Academy Awards
The funniest moment of last night’s almost tearfully boring Academy Awards had nothing to do with Billy Crystal‘s hosting duties, which were apparently ripped from a Catskills comedian back in the 70s. No, the best moment was Sacha Baron Cohen showing up on the red carpet, fully in character as Admiral Aladeen of Wadiya to promote his upcoming movie The Dictator.
This was supposed to be a big deal, since Mr. Baron Cohen, who co-starred in Martin Scorsese‘s Hugo, was allegedly told by the Academy not to promote his movie through some viral marketing stunt on the red carpet. The Borat actor replied earlier last week in the form of a YouTube video and a phone call on Today, then went ahead and showed up as Admiral Aladeen anyway.
Join Drew Grant and Daniel D’Adderio as they discuss the Academy Awards in real time! Who will win? Brad Pitt? George Clooney? Meryl Streep??! It’s all so exciting!
Proving that they take themselves way more seriously than the MTV Movie Awards, the Academy of Motion Pictures warned prankster Sasha Baron Cohen this week that he could not attend the Oscars in character from his latest film. According to an official statement from an Academy spokesperson, “The red carpet is not about stunting.” As everyone knows, the red carpet is only to reinforce our country’s love of Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and our annual token African-American newcomer, up for a statue for their supporting role in a film starring much bigger celebrities.
Was Mr. Baron Cohen, who co-starred in Hugo, even planning on attending as Admiral Gen. Shabazz Aladeen from The Dictator, a mockumentary about a Middle Eastern tyrant from the fictional Republic of Wadiya?
Well, now that the powers of be say that he can’t do it, the British comedian is going to milk all the publicity from this non-scandal as possible. And he’s going to do it in character. On the Today show. Poor Ann Curry.
The Academy has warned Sacha Baron Cohen not to show up to the Oscars in character as “the Dictator,” the title character from his upcoming fantasia on Middle Eastern themes. As Mr. Cohen’s films rest somewhat on the tension between his invented characters and shocked but credulous citizens, and as he’s run out of citizens Read More
Paramount Pictures announced today that Sacha Baron Cohen has chosen a role that will complete the triad that he started with Borat and Bruno. What persona has he chosen to embody following a challenged Kazahkstani and a flamboyantly gay Austrian?
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You’ve got to hand it to Hollywood. As a collective, the town is quite good finding scapegoats to blame for their mistakes. Case in point: Twitter. Did you know that the reason some movies—cough, Brüno—have done poorly at the box office this summer is because of the Twitter Effect? The answer is Read More
With all this extra money lying around, perhaps it might be time for Hogwarts to add a new wing to the campus: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ruled the roost over the weekend conjuring up an estimated $79.4 million in ticket sales. (Wizard jokes, hello!) Add that to the nearly $80 Read More