Sacha Baron Cohen
16 May 2012
The subject of dictatorship over world nations is generally a grim subject. Common people are starved or murdered in mass numbers while one man with an inferiority complex takes all riches for himself greedily and even attempts to force other countries to follow suit. So, with this in mind, what better subject could one find for a comedy? Sounds perverse, right? But trust Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan), the twisted mockumentarian and cinema satirical terrorist, to play a literal terrorist.
Baron Cohen stars as Admiral General Aladeen (a direct joke on the late Colonel Gaddafi), ruler of Wadiya, and living quite a life. He is rich beyond all reason or sanity because he won’t sell off his precious oil fields to further assist the American people. He is also developing nuclear weapons, but very slowly and he also complains that the missile is not pointy enough, so he has the top researcher executed. Meanwhile he seduces Hollywood superstar Megan Fox (Transformers), as herself, with priceless diamonds and other jewelry. Yet as Aladeen’s wall suggests, filled with celebrities he has paid off the same way for intercourse (including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ellen DeGeneres!), he is a very lonely man who just wants to be loved. However, when the U.N. declares intentions to stop his nuclear program, Aladeen leaves for N.Y.C. to confront the council directly. On the way he is betrayed, and loses his entire identity (a.k.a. his beard), and thus has to suddenly learn the life of a commoner while trying to get back his title.
This being the third collaboration with Baron Cohen and director Larry Charles (Borat, Brüno) skips the documentary format and just plays as a straight movie. From the very beginning viewers will be shocked and even appalled at some of the jokes, then go right on to laughing. It’s this insulting-but-not-really humor that made “Blazing Saddles” so popular, though maybe only the 16-25 year old audience will appreciate this. It’s much better than “Brüno”, but not as clever as “Borat”. Add a great supporting cast in John C. Reilly (Chicago, Step Brothers), Anna Faris (Scary Movie, The House Bunny), and Sir Ben Kingsley (Gandhi, Sexy Beast) to make this a very entertaining movie. Still, I didn’t think the actual story they devised was all that creative. The writers seemed to make a vehicle for Baron Cohen just to wield his own way for more dirty jokes, forgetting to develop any characters outside their own stereotypes.
“The Dictator” is funny enough to take up 90 minutes of foul, raunchy jokes though it’s not Baron Cohen’s best. Even when Charlie Chaplin made “The Great Dictator” there was at least a more meaningful message, but sometimes we just need another phallus joke to get through the day.