In what is typical of films written by and starring Sacha Baron Cohen, The Dictator bombards viewers with humour that is sexist, racist, vulgar, and for the most part, absolutely laugh out loud hilarious. But here, Cohen doesn’t run a perfect regime. Unlike his other comedic films, such as Borat (2006), and Brüno (2009), The Dictator isn’t a mockumentary, being fully scripted instead, with a plot that is merely serviceable.
The movie tells the fictional tale of Admiral General Hafez Aladeen (Cohen), who seems to have been modeled after the late Libyan dictator Colonel Qaddafi. The film shows him as an immature and corrupt leader of the North African Republic of Wadiya, and such an anti-Semite that his favourite video game relives the 1972 Olympics ‘Munich massacre’, allowing him to shoot the digitised version of the Israeli Olympics team while they run away, looking horrified.
After the UN Security Council threatens Aladeen for continuing with his country’s nuclear weapons programme, he is kidnapped by a hitman (John C Reilly), and replaced with a double. Aladeen later realises it is all a scheme hatched by his evil uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley), who we learn is looking to become wealthy by appropriating Wadiya’s oil resources under the guise of democracy.
After Aladeen escapes, he tries to find a way back into power. Here, he is aided by Nadal (Jason Mantzoukas), the former head of his nuclear programme. Aladeen also becomes romantically involved with American social activist Zoey (Anna Farris) who, with her athletic figure, initially looks like a boy to Aladeen. Understandable, given that he usually surrounds himself with women with barbie—like dimensions. Though when Nadal mentions a certain molestation incident involving Aladeen and some young boys, the dictator’s attraction to Zoey is better explained.
Towards the end, the film even delivers some interesting, albeit thinly veiled, social commentary on the double standards of first world nations. In terms of plot structure, the film definitely takes notes from generic comedy films, employing overly familiar clichés. Having said that, The Dictator is armed to the teeth with a sharply written script, leaving no doubt that The Dictator does rule.
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