Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Dictator

In The Dictator, the latest wild ride from Sacha Baron Cohen of Borat fame, he portrays Aladeen, the despot of the small African nation of Wadiya. With the help from his second in command, Tamir (portrayed by the brilliant Ben Kingsley), Aladeen is relentlessly trying to pursue the development of nuclear weapons. When word of his attempts reaches the United Nations, he is threatened with military action unless he speaks to their concerns during a U.N. council speech in New York City. Unbeknownst to Aladeen, Tamir is plotting against him, in an effort to gain direct control over the country's oil fields. Once in New York, Aladeen is betrayed and left penniless, homeless and beardless on the mean streets of New York, where he encounters Zoey (Anna Faris) who mistakes him for a dissident refugee, and offers him a job. There hence Aladeen begins plotting his return to power with a few detours thrown in for good measure.

The movie opens with the message "In loving memory of Kim Jong-Il", so you know you're gonna be in for a bumpy ride from the get go; and boy was it bumpy. As an equal-opportunity offender, Cohen's jokes take aim at everyone from women, Blacks, Jews, America, Chinese and celebrities, to name a few. I'm sure I missed someone. The humor was crude, rude, offensive and relatively funny, though alot of the funnier scenes had already been previewed on the trailer. There are a couple little hidden gems, like the polaroid wall of shame featuring Aladeen's sexual conquests, some of the names were hilarious, and a funny celebrity cameo near the end of the film. A definite scene-stealer for me was the great Bobby Lee from MADtv. He was, as expected, hilariously offensive as Mr Lao, a Chinese diplomat.

I went in with high hopes because I enjoy Cohen's usual hijinks, unfortunately The Dictator wasn't as funny as Borat, though it did have the added benefit of a few less cringe-worthy moments, since this time-around everyone was in on the joke. A tepid recommendation to average movie fans, a resounding 'must-see' if Cohen's brand of over-the-top humor is your cup of tea.