Sacha Baron Cohen is the king of putting people in uncomfortable situations–uncovering their true natures. American audiences are most familiar with Borat and Bruno, while others will also remember Da Ali G Show–where all three characters had their moments in the sun. Don’t be fooled though, this is not Cohen’s first purely fictitious comedy. There was an Ali G movie (Ali G in Da House) that didn’t translate too well in the States. While The Dictator is leaps and bounds better than Ali G in Da House, it’s far from perfect.
Supreme leader of the Republic of Wadiya, Admiral General Aladeen wants two things out of life-to be loved and death to the west. He’s close to having a nuclear missile ready for launch by the time he is due in New York to address the UN Council. With the number of attempts to assassinate the Admiral General growing by the day, the amount of security surrounding Aladeen while in NY is astounding. Still, someone gets to him and commits an unspeakable act–he removes Aladeen’s beard! Miraculously escaping, Aladeen finds his body double is being used to bring Democracy to Wadiya. Unrecognizable without his beard, Aladeen sets out on a crazy NY adventure to reclaim his leadership and save Dictatorships all over the world.
Enough of the jokes that fill the first half of The Dictator are cute and outrageous, though slightly stale. If you’re familiar with Cohen’s humor, nothing comes as a surprise. A few treats are sprinkled here and there (his “wall of fame” and his special Wii game- truly deliver), but nothing propels the laughs forward. The film picks up in the uproarious hilarity context as the story begins to wrap up. From what I dub, the birthing scene-through the very end, doesn’t disappoint. At this point though, the film is almost over and it’s not enough to deem The Dictator an unrelenting success.
This is still an enjoyable film, though. Numerous cameos lead to smiles and head shakes and the film’s conclusion is a glorious stab at all politics of today. Yes, just as all his previous films have been round about ways of pointing out the hypocrisies in society today–The Dictator does the same. Making fun of the outlandish leaders we watch on CNN is just one part of this movie. The rest is something that will hit much closer to home, so be prepared.
The Dictator is a disappointment in ways. That’s what you’ll get if you sit down expecting a wall to wall laugh riot of unfathomable proportions. Still, even as a disappointment, it’s a cute little ride with a knife point finale. Perfect it’s not, good enough it is.
Rating: 3 out of 5 ‘Staches