It is a testament to Sacha Baron Cohen’s peculiar type of comedy that his days of roaming the globe, unrecognized and in character, have come to an end. He is now so recognizable and infamous for his antics, that graduating to traditional scripted movies was the next logical step. The result, however, is anything but traditional or logical, and will either lead to riotous laughter, or perhaps actual riots.
The latest of Cohen’s eccentric characters, known as General Admiral Aladeen, is the supreme dictator of a fictitious oil-rich land named Wadiya. In his domain, he rules with a gold-plated fist, living a life of luxury and oppressing virtually everyone around him. Aladeen’s right hand diplomat, Tamir (Ben Kingsley) has grown defiant of the dictator’s rule, and senses that great material wealth would be gained by overthrowing the regime and selling Wadiya’s vast petroleum to the world’s energy hungry nations.
Tamir seizes opportunity when Aladeen must travel to America to sort out a United Nations conflict, and Aladeen is soon ousted and replaced by a look-a-like goat farmer. Throughout his trying time in America, the dictator must find himself and save his country before he loses everything.
As a whole, the movie itself feels disjunct, sort of a series of sketches knitted together by awkward filler dialogue. There were many gems, such as Ben Kingsley’s nuanced performance, as well as Cohen’s hilarious improv style jokes that carried much of the film along. It’s just enough to keep the audience entertained, cringing, laughing, and gasping along the way.
Sacha Baron Cohen has once again created another character unlike any other, yet “The Dictator” mirrors and mocks much of the political and cultural situation our world finds itself in today. And just like the real-world, perhaps there is more to joke about than you might think.
Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, brief male nudity, language and some violent images.