Matt Adcock’s film review: The Dictator

‘Aladeen, my friends – welcome to the nation state of Wadiya, I am your benevolent dictator Admiral General Aladeen, and it is I who keep everything Aladeen in this great place.’

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 22nd May 2012, 4:35 am

The Dictator breaks from the mockumentary style of Sacha Baron Cohen’s previous big screen hits, the hilariously provocative Borat and the amusingly offensive Brüno, and delivers a slick fish out of water romantic comedy with a powerful political subtext.

The story starts off in the fictitious North African country Wadiya where General Aladeen rules with an infantile mind and an iron fist.

His every whim and wish is indulged – including sexual liaisons with nearly every high profile woman (and some men) on the planet.

But even obscene affluence can’t prevent him having to travel to the USA in order to appease the United Nations who are sniffing around his rogue nuclear weapons programme.

In the land of the free the absolute ruler falls from power after being left for dead and usurped by a dim body double backed by a traitorous Ben Kingsley.

Then to make matters worse he meets his love match in an eco-warrior feminist named Zoey (Anna Faris), who owns an over the top green shop staffed by comically stereosocial misfits and oppressed foreigners.

How will the idiot despot survive? Can he possibly get his position back and thwart the plans for Wadiya to be made into a free democracy?

It turns out that the proposed political constitution for his country is simply a front for oil sales – hhhmm, that’s a bit far fetched. right?

Surely no countries are being manipulated by force or politics to part with their natural resources?

Baron Cohen brings a ton of weapons grade cultural critique comedy, including unforgettable scene such as the mother of all misunderstandings during a helicopter tour where a white American couple think Aladeen is planning his own 9/11 attack.

The Dictator is as wildly un-politically correct as we’ve come to expect from Cohen and completely sexist, too – to give you a flavour, Zoey is mercilessly referred to as a hairy little hobbit boy due to her unshaved armpits and lack of boobs.

There are many unnecessary gross out moments, but despite the odd misstep the laughs come thick and fast enough – and pack enough political punch – to make this a worthy addition to Cohen’s canon of films and the new benchmark for comedies in 2012.