Release Date: May 16, 2012
Director: Larry Charles
Stars: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Anna Farris
Runtime: 98 min (Extended Version)
The Republic of Wadiya is ruled by an eccentric and oppressive leader named Hafez Aladeen. Aladeen is summoned to New York to a UN assembly to address concerns about his country’s nuclear weapons program, but the trip goes awry.
The Dictator is exactly what you’ll expect from a Sacha Baron Cohen movie. It’s going to be rude, crude, filled with racist and sexist remarks, it’s sometimes pretty nasty, usually stupid and hilarious, and it’ll probably have some male frontal nudity. Cohen’s films are usually pretty stupid, but this one actually has a nice plot.
It’s sort of like a Prince and the Pauper premise. When Aladeen and his advisors get to America, his right-hand man – Tamir (Ben Kingsley) – backstabs him to by replacing him with a dim-witted doppelgänger. He must find a way to get to a new signing of a UN document, because Tamir wants democracy in Wadiya. Aladeen must pair up with Zoey, a hairy little woman who looks like a ten-year old boy (as Aladeen calls her) to stop the signing of the document and keep democracy out of his country. Women’s rights? Voting? Who wants that?
It is boring in the beginning, but it finds its pacing and it gets pretty interesting and even funnier. It is sometimes pretty nasty and ridiculous, but that’s just Cohen’s brand of humour. If you don’t like that sort of stuff, this won’t be your type of movie. But for the aimed demographic, they’ll love this treat. However, while it may be nasty at times, it usually is really funny. The rudeness of it all is just not for everyone. It really offers a fun experience for any of those who can appreciate it.
The concept of a woman’s love changing a man for the better has been used many times before, so Cohen resorts to an old age tale in that way. However, it isn’t like he’s a slacker or anything, he’s a dictator who thinks he executed hundreds of people. Zoey starts to change his ways, and she teaches him how to masturbate in a sort of hilarious scene that includes an eagle soaring majestically and Forrest Gump breaking out of his leg brace. Leave it to Cohen to think of things that are so ridiculous, but so funny.
Someone who also helps Aladeen is a missile developer back in Wadiya, Nadal (Jason Mantzoukas) who Aladeen thought was “executed”, but he was really sent to America. He shares many of Aladeen’s beliefs, but they make this film feel like a buddy comedy at some points in the film. One really odd character is this sort of ninja who uses her ginormous boob as a weapon. Remember when Borat nude wrestles with Azamat in Borat? Well, this woman sort of beats Aladeen up with her big tit… It’s a little odd, even for anyone who enjoys Cohen’s unique sense of humour… But he is one edgy guy, and it’s certainly never been done before.
The Dictator is an attempt from Cohen that is much better than Brüno, but it’s no Borat. However, he makes a great attempt at stringing a good plot line, and bringing us a great new character in the process. It offers some fine entertainment value for the time-being, and it’s a fun and funny experience. It’s a great racist comedy that finds its pacing when he and his crew get to America. It’s fine that he used the Prince and the Pauper premise, but he does resort to the old-age tale of women changing men for the better. Whatever, you did us well, Cohen.