“The Barber of Kings”

One of the biggest problems with Tim Burton‘s lavishly produced adaption of Broadway’s Sweeney Todd is that he cast a bunch of actors who simply weren’t equipped to perform Stephen Sondheim‘s challenging musical numbers. It become all the more obvious when Cohen enters as Adolfo Pirelli, a lavishly dressed con man who is pulled into a shaving contest with the murderous barber Sweeney Todd after his “miracle elixir” for preventing hair loss is exposed as a sham. Cohen brings the right blend of menace and whimsy to to Pirelli and, unlike too many of the people surround him, he’s perfectly equipped to sing his song.

“Why Are You Guys so Anti-dictators?”

The Dictator suffers the same problems as the not-on-this-list Ali G Indahouse – Cohen is often at his best when he’s operating in the wild without a proper script. While sporadically funny, this film has more in common with a typical Adam Sandler film than the fierce guerrilla comedy of his previous projects. And then the climax roles around and the displaced dictator Admiral General Haffaz Aladeen (Cohen) emerges from hiding after a failed assassination attempt and gives a speech sticking up for authoritarian regimes. This scene has all of the shock and awe that was missing from the rest of the film, as this horrifying character tears into the the American political system and exposes more than a few things that people were furious about back in 2012. Heck, we’re still angry about them now.

“Austria Gay TV?”

Most of Cohen’s unwitting co-stars/prank victims react to Ali G’s nonsense with irritation and Borat’s racism with shocking geniality, but Brüno often seems to bring out the ugliest side of humanity. Cohen’s flamboyantly gay Austrian fashionista is a silly character who often is the butt of the joke, like when he interviewed Paula Abdul while using other people as furniture. But more often than not, Bruno is enraging the homophobic and riling up people who simply cannot stand to be in the same room as a gay man. While the final scenes of the feature film version of Brüno (where Cohen instigates a riot during an MMA cage fight by making out with his opponent) will never leave my mind, this scene from Da Ali G Show is my go-to memory for Brüno. At first, these dressed-for-the-beach bros gleefully participate in Bruno’s silly television program, showing off their physiques and rear ends and having a big, dumb, gay time. But when Cohen informs them that they’re on “Austria Gay TV,” that changes everything. His reaction, to repeatedly mutter “Austria Gay TV?!” in a growing rage, has stuck with me from the moment I first saw this segment.

Continue Reading Sacha Baron Cohen’s Finest Moments >>

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