Faint hearts beware

Sacha Baron Cohen plays Admiral General Aladeen, tyrannical ruler of the African state of Wadiya, who is hiding the real Bin Laden in one of his opulent palace’s spare rooms. During a visit to “the Devil’s nest” of America to address the United Nations about his nuclear arsenal, Aladeen is usurped by his duplicitous brother Tamir (Sir Ben Kingsley) and cast adrift on the streets. Zoey (Anna Faris), the tomboyish manager of a vegan feminist non-profit co-operative, takes pity on Aladeen, who she accepts as an immigrant called Allison Burgers, but sparks of romance are continually extinguished by Aladeen’s bigotry. Eventually, Zoey discovers that Aladeen is wanted for war crimes and is horrified by the truth.

This gleefully bad taste fish-out-of-water comedy kicks sand in the eye of political correctness.

We’re in a perpetual state of discomfort during The Dictator, unsure where the scriptwriters might venture next for uneasy laughs.

No subject is off limits - the September 11 attacks, rape, sexual equality, Judaism - and Larry Charles’s film tramples merrily over social taboos, hitting more targets than it misses as the titular despot runs amok in the capitalist playground of New York City.

If you judge Charles’s film based on the number of belly laughs it packs into 83 minutes and ignore the occasional lulls, it’s a rousing success.

Some gags are so jaw-droppingly offensive, you can feel the oxygen being sucked out of the cinema.

Faint hearts beware.