Film Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Sacha Baron Cohen Back as Ruthless Tyrant in Another Irreverent Shockumentary
Admiral General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) is a Middle Eastern megalomaniac who rules the mythical Republic of Wadiya with an iron fist. The ruthless tyrant has been in power since the age of 7, much to the chagrin of his envious, Uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley), who secretly covets seizing control of the oil-rich kingdom.
However, Aladeen is well aware that he has any number of enemies who might want him dead, given his anti-Semitic, anti-Western and anti-democratic attitudes. Therefore, he often employs a look-a-like to pose as a militaristic Muslim monarch in public, while he hypocritically pursues the decadent private life of a materialistic playboy, dating pop icons like Megan Fox, Katy Perry and Halle Berry.
But a rude awakening awaits Aladeen in New York City where he is kidnapped by a hit man (John C. Reilly) hired by his uncle and replaced by an impersonator before he has a chance to deliver an address to the United Nations. After escaping, he soon discovers that no one in Manhattan believes that he’s really the Mad Dog of Wadiya.
So, he ironically, he ends up dependent on the charity of Zoey (Anna Faris), a human rights activist who was part of a demonstration protesting his arrival in the Big Apple. The plot thickens when Aladeen is forced to see how the other half lives. The question then arises whether he will finally develop empathy for the common people he so despises.
That is the deliberately-preposterous premise of The Dictator, the latest mockumentary starring the terminally-irreverent Sacha Baron Cohen. To give you an idea of how this flick stacks up against the naughty bad boy’s earlier offerings, it is far funnier than the abysmal Bruno (2009), yet fails to match the incessant hilarity of the brilliant Borat (2006).
Nonetheless, the movie has no shortage of memorable moments, from the opening credits dedication ”In loving memory of Kim Jong-il” clear through the closing credits scene where the patrilineal protagonist asks his pregnant wife whether she’s “having a boy or an abortion.” The picture’s politically-incorrect brand of tomfoolery is typified by the skit in the trailer, where Aladeen shoots his competitors to prevent them from passing him on the track while running a 100 yard-dash.
As long as you’re open-minded enough to stomach shocking displays of ethnic intolerance and stereotyping like Asians being teased about confusing the letter ‘l’ with the letter ‘r’, Arabs being referred to as sand monkeys, and Jews having urine poured on their heads, you’re apt to get a kick out of this equal-opportunity offender.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for profanity, violent images, crude humor, ethnic slurs, graphic sexuality and full-frontal male nudity.
Running time: 83 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures