Although the democratization of the Arab world continues to dominate the headlines of newspapers, brutal authoritarianism continues to plague the region, but one ruthless dictator in particular epitomizes degenerate power, Admiral General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen). The only thing more brutal than Supreme Leader Aladeen, however, is “The Dictator” — and not in a good way.
Regardless of whether or not you aced Map of the Modern World, don’t bother searching for the Republic of Wadiya, the country which Aladeen rules, since this North African country doesn’t actually exist.
Following “Borat” (2006) and “Bruno” (2009), “The Dictator” seems to fall flat in attempt to succeed the critical acclaim earned by its predecessors. Cohen portrays Aladeen with all of the absurd qualities of a despotic tyrant. Having ruled Wadiya since the tender age of seven, Aladeen seems to live a life of constant relations with American celebrities (such as Megan Fox and Lindsay Lohan) and sentencing people to execution at a whim. After being forced to speak in front of the United Nations in New York City to prove that his country isn’t producing weapons of mass destruction — a blatant reference to the nuclear program in Iran — it becomes clear that one of Aladeen’s closest men is in a conspiracy to have the Dear Leader replaced with a lookalike in order to bring about an end to the dictatorship and bring about a democracy.
Although it comes at no shock that the plot is completely predictable, unlike the two former films, “The Dictator” is completely scripted — a quality that gives mockumentary-style films a certain height of excitement hardly attainable by totally scripted films. Along with the surprisingly unoriginal plot, Cohen pushes the envelope of shock humor too far with jokes that pertain to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, suicide and rape.
Cohen is known for shocking humor, from Bruno “putting a hit on Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.)” to Borat singing the “Kazakhstani national anthem” to the tune of “The Star-Spangled Banner” during a rodeo. However, “The Dictator” tries too hard to be what it’s not, a clever comedy and in turn, aims for shocking humor that, in the end, just disappoints and disgusts. Regardless of the funny scenes portraying Brooklyn, NY as hyper-liberal and absurdly vegan (read: hipster), Cohen doesn’t quite hit the mark. Rape is never funny.
Only a mere 83 minutes, “The Dictator” doesn’t have the opportunity to drag out too long. “The Dictator,” however, does share a particularly important quality with “Borat” and “Bruno:” Do not see this film with parents or anyone else who would be uncomfortable watching the birth of a child from the perspective of the uterus. “Are you having a boy or an abortion?” Aladeen asks his newfound American love Zoey (Anna Faris), it’s neither. “The Dictator,” a proves to be another mediocre film on par with “Scary Movie 2” (2001) and “Date Movie” (2006).