The Dictator

Directed By: Larry Charles

Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley, Megan Fox, and John C. Reilly

Do you know those jokes that are highly inappropriate and border on making you uncomfortable as a viewer?  Jokes that often result in nervous laughter or dead silence?  The Dictator is filled with those moments, but you cannot expect anything else from Sacha Baron Cohen.

Haffaz Aladeen (Cohen) is a ruthless dictator from the fictional north African country of Wadiya.  Aladeen rules his oil rich country with an iron fist.  Any person who disagrees with Aladeen or engages in the slightest offense, is executed.  He is egotistical, prone to excess and hungry for power and praise.  Despite all of his power and his lavish lifestyle, the ruler of Wadiya is not without his problems. Aladeen is lonely.  He sleeps with various celebrities (i.e. Megan Fox) in hopes of filling a void in his life.  However, after hundreds of conquests, he still has no one to cuddle at night.  In addition, Wadiya is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons.  The world is outraged that the Muslim nation could become a nuclear power.  World leaders demand that Aladeen report to the United Nations in person and answer questions regarding his nuclear weapons program or face military action.

Aladeen travels to New York City to address his fellow world leaders.  However, his trusted right hand Tamir (Ben Kingsley) betrays him.  Tamir plots to have Aladeen kidnapped and killed so that he can have a fake Aladeen convert Wadiya to a democracy and open the country up to selling its oil to foreign countries.  Aladeen is kidnapped but escapes and attempts to return to his old lifestyle.  However, the kidnapper cuts off Aladeen’s beard.  Without his beard, and without his clothes, he is dismissed as a nobody.  Zoey (Anna Faris), a liberal protestor, mistakes Aladeen for a refugee and befriends him.  The rest of the film follows Aladeen’s attempt to reclaim his power and at the same time adapt to life in America.

The Dictator is irreverent, politically incorrect fun.  No one is safe from attack.  The Dictator successfully mocks and offends everyone: Middle Easterners, women, persons of Asian descent, liberals, African Americans, Jewish people, etc.  In addition, there are a fair number of shots taken at American history and its political system. One barb that stuck out was Aladeen’s description of America as a country built by blacks and owned by the Chinese.  I was pleasantly surprised that with all of the crass, in your face humor, there were a couple of moments that actually made me reflect on the unfairness that is inherent in America’s political system.

The Dictator is not without its flaws.  At only an hour and twenty-three minutes, it is a short film to spend $10 or more on.  Moreover, because the film is so short, I think it suffers from the fact that many of its humorous scenes were featured in the trailer for the movie.  So the film in some ways plays like an extended trailer because we’ve already seen many of the funniest scenes in the movie preview. 

All in all, I had some laugh out loud moments and found this to be fairly enjoyable.  Kick back with an African ginger beer and enjoy a few laughs.