After making a splash with characters Ali G, Borat and Brüno, Sacha Baron Cohen is at it once again with his newest creation: Admiral General Aladeen, the ruler of the fictional Republic of Wadiya and star of “The Dictator.” Continuing his streak of controversial and what some may consider offensive films, Cohen managed to create yet another masterpiece that kept me smiling and laughing throughout the film.
Before viewing “The Dictator,” I was curious as to how Cohen would be able to pull off this type of movie, considering how “Borat” and “Brüno” were completely unscripted and took on the style of a mockumentary. While “Borat” captured the real-life interactions between Americans and a fictitious journalist from Kazakhstan, “The Dictator” did not involve fooling random characters and required everyone to follow a script. I was afraid that the removal of candid moments would take away from the hilarity of “The Dictator,” but this did not prove to be the case at all.
The film starts off with an introduction of Admiral General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) and a snapshot of how this ruler runs his fictional North African country. Aladeen came into power when he was just 7 years old, which was around the time when he started modifying the country to fit his every desire and need. He changed over 300 Wadiyan words to “Aladeen,” just to cause confusion and make everyone’s life more difficult. After the words “positive” and “negative” were both replaced by the word “Aladeen,” it’s no wonder how people found it hard to distinguish between “Aladeen” and “Aladeen.” The descriptions of Admiral General Aladeen and small details such as this kept the laughs rolling throughout the movie and made for a very entertaining hour and 23 minutes.
The rest of the film follows the journey of Admiral General Aladeen after he is asked to address the United Nations in New York City — the result of scaring the rest of the world with his goals of implementing the use of nuclear weapons as well as abusing civil rights. However, upon the despot’s arrival to America, Aladeen is replaced by an idiotic double as an attempt to have Aladeen’s scheming Uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley) take over. This turns the once powerful ruler into an ordinary wanderer of New York City and allows him to meet an activist and what Aladeen soon names the “lesbian Hobbit,” Zoey (Anna Faris). Through a series of comical events, viewers watch as Aladeen acclimates to city life and attempts to make his way back to the United Nations and eventually reclaim his power from the man pretending to be him.
Sacha Baron Cohen’s performance was as entertaining as it was in “Borat” and “Brüno.” Cohen has the ability to portray a variety of different personas with ease, and this talent came through once again with “The Dictator.” Overall, Cohen had good comedic timing and exhibited his skillful acting as usual.
While the majority of “The Dictator” is light-hearted and contains typical sketch comedy humor, the film also makes subtle and insightful commentary around American politics. Aladeen’s speech toward the end of the movie about the state of American democracy — how this type of ruling allows us to bail out greedy corporations and caters to the 1 percent of the population — actually brings political reflection and proves to be an accurate viewpoint of our country.
Even though vulgar and sometimes crude humor may not be everyone’s cup of tea, “The Dictator” will be sure to make many people smile at minimum, or at the very least, appreciate the well-written satire.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5