It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that Sacha Baron Cohen burst on the scene and became the hottest comedian on earth.
He first started getting strong buzz for Da Ali G Show, and Ali G, the ignoramous hip-hopper, is still my favorite Cohen character. Of course, the show also gave us Borat and Bruno, and both characters were hilarious.
Then came the Borat movie in 2006, which became the hottest thing in comedy since sliced bread primarily for its sheer outrageousness, and Cohen’s willingness to do practically anything for a laugh, like rolling around and wrestling naked with his cohort Azamat. (He also got a lot of attention for landing butt first on Eminem in character as Bruno at the MTV Awards).
But now film geek pundits have been armchair quarterbacking on whether Cohen will continue his hilarious reign creating hilarious alter-egos, or if he should try something new.
We just reported here on TG that there’s polls all over the Internet about whether Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have outworn their welcome since Dark Shadows flopped. Now Cinema Blend is asking, “After The Dictator, Should Sacha Baron Cohen Change His Act?” What few reviews I’ve read of the film so far have given me the impression that The Dictator’s uneven, but a lot of good laughs stick to the wall, yet Cinema Blend also tells us, a lot of them reviews “seem to think it’s time for [Cohen] to retire his worn-out schtick.”
Katey Rich, a writer for Cinema Blend who hated The Dictator, also “left the movie wanting Cohen to move on to more roles like the one he had in Hugo, using his physical comedy skills to fit into a larger, more solid story.”
So okay, Cohen’s schtick has felt a bit old since the Bruno movie, although the Bruno skits on Da Ali G Show are still hilarious when you watch them today. In fact, if you go back and watch Borat, I feel it’s like what some critics feel about The Dictator in that it’s uneven, it’s not as hilarious as many initially felt, but the stuff that sticks to the wall is really funny, and it works.
I also feel going back to Da Ali G Show, and roles that Cohen played in Hugo and Sweeny Todd proves to me the guy is very talented, and is not a one trick pony. In fact, if he ever abandons doing character comedy movies, I hope he’ll do an Ali G movie, because I absolutely love that character.
So at the moment, the question remains: Will he continue to make crazy character based comedy mixed in with serious big screen work, or will he one day decide to move away from it? Cohen is also currently filming a role in the big screen version of Les Miserables, so it will be interesting to see where he’ll go in the future.