Sam: Sacha Baron Cohen strikes back! This time the great satirist assumes the identity of Admiral General Hafez Aladeen, dictator of the fictional African country of Wadiya, and nobody is safe from stereotyping, severe scatological humour and political incorrectness – although that’s not far from the norm for Mr. Cohen. Less of a mockumentary and more of a typical comedy with an actual excuse of a plot, The Dictator successful captures the zeitgeist, opening with a dedication to the late Kim Jong-il that sets the tone for the ensuing shenanigans.
Will: Although it’s perhaps not as funny as Borat (but comfortably better than Brüno) it’s certainly cleverer. While Cohen is ever-reliant on gross out, lowbrow humour, which although nothing new is at least genuinely entertaining unlike similar attempts in recent years, the best laughs come from Aladeen’s priceless, altogether clueless and boundless doses of politically incorrect statements. Sheer obliviousness has not been done this well since Steve Martin’s excellent (though much maligned) portrayal of Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther movies – it’s unbelievable that someone shown to be committing evil acts can be a likable and charismatic lead.
Sam: That said, the film didn’t really pick up in my mind until Aladeen had his beard unceremoniously chopped off in an attempt by his uncle (the imperial Ben Kingsley) to replace him with a manipulable double. Without the beard Aladeen is unrecognisable and ends up falling in with Zoey (Anna Faris), an activist who’s actually protesting Aladeen’s appearance at the United Nations in New York. She like everyone else doesn’t recognise no-beard-Aladeen and eventually takes him in, believing him to be a Wadiyan refugee who’s fallen afoul of the dictator’s harsh regime. This leads to some great comic situations, contrived as they may be, but memorable enough to recall once the film’s disappointingly anemic runtime has run its course.
Will: I mean c’mon! Is there any easier way to anger moviegoers than failing to even produce an 80 minute movie? It’s infuriating! Unlike the Transformers films and several other less memorable examples, this was not a movie that fell flat for long periods. It was a consistent 75 minutes (before credits), but one must wonder how it didn’t push through to closer to 90? I guess he wasted some cracking jokes on his guest appearance on the TODAY show!
Sam: Truly, with all the fantastic guest appearances Cohen’s done as Aladeen to promote the film one would think that there’s a mountain of footage out there already primed and fit for a sequel. So while it’s somewhat underwhelming that The Dictator has ended up being as brief as it is, it’s still a tight, laugh-out-loud romp worthy of recommendation, one that had my sides splitting when the beardless and totally-not-a-terrorist Aladeen took a scenic helicopter ride with a homely American couple. Let’s just say it’s probably not wise to start a countdown while flying above New York. My countdown however, stops at four stars.
Will: Why they didn’t say the numbers aloud in arabic rather than english, of course, is a blatant plot hole! The whole movie was completely ruined by this minor flaw! (Please(!!) read with heavy sarcasm)
I look forward to the special features of the DVD. This is comfortably his greatest and least one-dimensional major character, so let’s hope we see more of him in the future. 4 Aladeens out of 5.
Overall tag team review scores are based on the average of the individual scores, rounded down. This way a movie can only get a 5 star rating if everyone rates it 5/5.
The Burger: a thin bun (plot), a cow Aladeen had executed made into a small patty, blue cheese (occasionally cheesy and just a little off!), lettuce – oops! – they forgot the tomato (ordered bloodshed, never happened) and garlic mayo (it may be typical lowbrow humour but it’s a better version). We suggest ordering a main course as The Dictator was a mere entrée, tasty as it was though!