Home > Movie Reviews > The Aladeen review of Sacha Baron Cohen’s “The Dictator “

The Aladeen review of Sacha Baron Cohen’s “The Dictator “

I remember one lazy weekend afternoon in high school, where one of my roommates proposed watching Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat.  I was hesitant, having heard some pretty outrageous things about it, but was assured by my roommate that it was no big deal; that it was not that crazy a movie.  How wrong we were.  I remember sitting on our makeshift sofa – a twin-sized bed with the long side flush against the wall – shocked time after time at the completely ridiculous things that happened.  And while I didn’t particularly agree with Cohen’s methods, I had to give him credit for being astoundingly provocative.

Compared with Borat, The Dictator is almost disappointingly tame.  Cohen stars as Admiral General Supreme Leader Aladeen, dictator of North African country Wadiya, who goes before the UN after countries have threatened to take military action in response to Wadiya supposedly developing nuclear weapons.  However, Aladeen is kidnapped and replaced by his body double, so that his uncle Tamir may democratize Wadiya and sell its oil to some very eager buyers.  The Dictator shared Borat’s outrageous characters, but wasn’t near as cutting.

Underneath the stunts and political messages, The Dictator is at heart a love story.  Aladeen meets Zoey, a fem-lit studying, extreme left-wing, alternative co-op managing activist.  Anna Faris actually does a great job as Zoey, perhaps the most convincing acting here.  Aladeen falls in love with Zoey when she bitches out a police officer for arresting Aladeen and his sidekick after they accidentally drop a few choice words (Osama, 9/11, explosions) during a helicopter tour of New York City.  Compared to Borat’s huge infatuation with Pamela Anderson, this was flimsy and awkwardly fluffy.

For some reason, very little of the humor in The Dictator was jarring.  Everything just felt too planned, too forced, and while there were quite a few outrageous things that happened, nothing seemed surprising.  Rather than raising the bar, Cohen seemed to resort to repeating stunts of the past, with a crudeness that is no longer shocking and just plain unappetizing.  As for political messages, there are maybe three minutes at the end when Aladeen gives a speech about dictatorship that accidentally pretty much sums up the US’s current state: he says how dictatorship is great, allowing the 1% to grow richer while everyone else grows poorer, allowing leaders to declare war and violate civil liberties.  At one point, Aladeen takes over kind, liberal Zoey’s grocery store and turns it into a personality cult and essential dictatorship (employees are required to refer to Aladeen as “Supreme Grocer Aladeen”).  Ironically, his underhand tactics and controlling methods not only make the company efficient, but in fact, makes it excel for once.

There’s a well-scripted scene on a helicopter, and also a brief mimed scene at the beginning, but unfortunately, there is very little else to The Dictator worth laughing over.  I’ve included them at the end of this review, so you can just skip the movie without missing out on any jokes or references your friends might make to it.

Best regards,

Apple

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