Sacha Baron Cohen may be more recognizable thanks to his hit comedies so he can’t trick people into thinking he is a rapper or foreign news reporter. However, he can sport an oversized beard to play the character of a despotic dictator who dictates hilarity.
Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) rules the Republic of Wadiya with an iron fist and revels in the lavishness of his office. When the United Nations threatens military intervention of he goes through with developing nuclear weapons he flies to New York to speak before them. When he arrives in the big apple, he is kidnapped by a hit man (John C. Reilly) hired by Aladeen’s uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley).
Tamir puts a pretender on the throne named Efawadh (Cohen) who Tamir will get to sign papers to democratize Wadiya and open their oil fields to sell the oil internationally, something that Aladeen forbid. When tragedy strikes his captor, Aladeen escapes though without his beard so no one believes he is the infamous dictator. He tries to meet up with some of his people in “little Wadiya” in New York and discovers “Nuclear” Nadal (Jason Mantzoukas) who he thought he executed.
He had encountered activist Zoey (Anna Faris) who offered him a job but he refused. He reconsiders when he discovers that she’s catering an event at the hotel that the imposter is to sign the documents in. He also finds himself falling for her.
Sacha Baron Cohen rose to fame with his film about a clueless foreign reporter interacting with real folks, who weren’t in on the gag (they’d sue later when the movie made lots of money). Although Cohen had been doing characters on British telly, it would be Borat that brought him international attention. It would also do away with the conceit that this bumbling foreigner was real and not an actor playing a character. It never hurt me that Cohen reminds me of Peter Sellers either. Now that the gig is up, Cohen is not making reality shows disguised as movies but has to just make the movie part.
His latest character is a delightful despot who takes inspiration from the late Muammar Gaddafi (Aladeen = Gaddafi duck?) as well as other totalitarians (the film is dedicated to dear leader Kim Jong- Il). It may be a group ripe for satire, but we can’t exactly forget that those real life inspirations held down their people and put many to death… sorry to be a downer.
However, the movie is hilarious and Cohen is in his screwball satirical element. He is given an excellent counterpoint in the hilarious Mantzoukas as well as aping liberal activists with Farris. Not that any side is safe in the film. Also look for some cameos from a host of other comedians. The uncut version adds both naughtiness as well as more of Mantzoukas and Cohen.
The Dictator is presented in a 1080p transfer (2.40:1). Special features include 33 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, a 90 second music video featuring Aladeen, and the 3 minute Larry King Interview from the film. You also get a DVD and digital copy. You also get a “banned and unrated” cut that runs about 15 minutes longer.
The Dictator takes a hilarious look at folks who would execute Cohen for satirizing them. Cohen does what he does best in playing a clueless dolt that discovers that democracy may not be so bad after all. Perhaps he commanded the film to be hilarious.
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