“Ahh, America. The birthplace of AIDS.”
BQB here with a review of “The Dictator.”
You have to admit, in the abstract, dictators are funny. They often wear ridiculous clothing, absurd hats, uniforms with 10,000 medals pinned to them, live in golden palaces while their people starve, assassinate anyone who offends them in the slightest way…the list goes on.
In reality, they aren’t funny at all, especially for those who live under their cruel regimes.
Call it comedic chops, call it good satirical writing but somehow, Sacha Baron Cohen managed to make me laugh non-stop in 2012 when he donned the guise of Admiral General Aladeen, the Supreme Leader of the fictional country of Wadiya.
He executes henchmen who get the prize in the cereal box. He has a Wii that allows him to practice murdering Jews. He gets pissed when his nuclear missiles aren’t pointy and although he hates the West, he can’t get enough of the best that the West has to offer…sports cars, material possessions, and famous women (Megan Fox in a cameo as herself.)
On paper, this all sounds horrible. Nothing to laugh at. But in Cohen’s hands, he morphs it into a tour de farce where you laugh, not at the people who suffer under dictatorships, but at the sheer insanity that occurs in countries where the people are subjected to the whims of a maniacal lunatic.
In other words, while civilized nations deal with dictators with military action or sanctions, Cohen lambastes, making them look like fools, making it clear that men like Aladeen are mere boys in men’s clothing, squandering their country’s resources on expensive toys and grudges.
I’m not sure why this movie popped into my head. It has been out for six years, and I rented it at the time. On a whim, I rented it this weekend and laughed and laughed, though I’m not sure the humor holds up today.
Aladeen is savage in his insults of anything he deems too liberal, perhaps a not so subtle attempt to argue that America’s far right and the Middle East’s far right aren’t too far from one another. Fear not, for there is a part where it’s shown that America’s far left isn’t much to write home about either. Pretty much anyone on the extreme side of politics is lampooned through the vile Supreme Leader, as the jokes make us wonder whether or not we might have some wannabe Supreme Leaders in waiting right here in America. Personally, I think pundits on TV take it too far when they compare American politicians to dictators because, hey, let’s be honest, America isn’t perfect but it’s 100,000,000 times better than, say, well, a country like Wadiya.
Lost in America when his right hand man (Ben Kingsley) double crosses him, it’s up to Aladeen to expose an impostor and…ironically…save his country from becoming a democracy, and strangely, Cohen is able to get us to suspend disbelief long enough to root for this scumbag even though in the back of our minds we know he deserves all manner of punishment and at the very least, to be brought before an international war crimes tribunal.
Along the way, Aladeen falls in love with (what a twist) the crunchy granola chomping hipster/organic food collective manager Zoe (Anna Farris.) Weapons grade political incorrectness ensues as Aladeen insults Zoe’s hippy appearance regularly, from her unshaven pits to her boy hair cut to her small boobs. Not sure that humor stands up in today’s highly PC climate, but six years ago, people were able to get the context, i.e. that men like Aladeen are scumbags who have no ability to see women as anything but objects for their pleasure and yet are too stupid to not realize why they are so lonely.
STATUS: Worth a rental. Funny highlights include Aladeen discussing with his science advisor the intricacies of applying cartoon logic to nuclear bomb making; Aladeen laughing through public promises to not use his nuclear program to blow up Israel; female guards who break boards in half with their boobs.
Over the top gross out jokes ensue though, including a rather deranged running gag involving a severed human head so, yeah, not for the squeamish, or now that I think of it, for even the most semi-respectable of citizens.
I think your final paragraph is also an apt description for Cohen himself.
Well…where does the time go? I thought the Borat movie was inspired, how he took all these pranks and strung them along into something with sort of a plot. Unfortunately, he became too recognizable so he had to rely more and more on gross out humor.