Sacha Baron Cohen’s new film is entirely scripted—and with all of his Ali G characters completely mined, features an entirely new character—yet it still bears some of the tried-and-true hallmarks of his earlier work. Once more Cohen plays a guy with a thick foreign accent, whose myopic, blithely ignorant behavior is meant to satirize our own secret prejudices—in this case, a wealthy Middle Eastern despot who arrives in America (“The birthplace of AIDS!” as he exclaims) and, despite condemnations from NATO, President Obama, and Hillary Clinton, is allowed to indulge himself in all of our finest things. Like Megan Fox, for example, who plays herself as an extreme version of those celebrities who gladly turn up at the birthday parties of unscrupulous foreign dignitaries, literally whoring herself out in exchange for some jewelry.
Outside of the encounter with Fox, and other than a quick glimpse of Ben Kingsley and a cameo from John C. Reilly making a clunky 9/11 joke that probably sounded a lot more stinging on the page, this early glimpse doesn’t really get into the world surrounding Cohen’s character much, ignoring Cohen’s dual role as a goatherder and leaving out love interest Anna Faris completely. Instead it’s all about the Kardashian gags that should ensure the film’s comic freshness well into 2013, plus plenty of Cohen spouting made-up Arabic gibberish, which will sound extra hilarious (and maybe spark all kinds of fun racist incidents) when it’s being imitated ad nauseam by every college guy who sees this.