by Rick Grant
Clearly, Sacha Baron Cohen’s satirical style lacks subtlety. However, in this film, his heavy artillery approach to sending up the fictional Mid Eastern dictator (think Saddam Hussein) blasts onto the screen with hardy laughs. In some scenes, Cohen goes too far with his gags, but for most of the film, he gets continuous guffaws.
The tag line preceding the film is: “Dedicated in loving memory to Kim Jong-il.” Immediately, we think of the hilarious animated “Team America: World Police,” portraying Kim Jong-Il as an idiot.
Cohen plays Admiral General Aladeen of Wadiya. He has ruled the desert colony all his life and created a cult of personality based on fear. Anyone who displeases the despot is instantly executed.
Like Muammar Gaddafi, Aladeen employs an all-female security force who wear tight fitting short skirts and carry AK-47s. And like Hussein, he uses a body double to discourage assassination. Aladeen’s scheming right hand man, Tamir (Ben Kingsley) finds an illiterate shepherd as Aladeen’s double.
Unbeknownst to Aladeen, when he travels to NYC to the United Nations, Tamir has arranged for the Aladeen’s double to sign a democratic constitution that will make Tamir rich from promised business with China.
Director, Larry Charles, who helmed “Borat” and “Bruno” for Cohen, uses an unpretentious style and even pacing to drive home the gags and satire, with Cohen as Aladeen in most every shot. Understandably, Cohen co-wrote the script and so he dominates the movie. Cohen carries the joke off screen as the ultimate method actor, appearing at the Oscars as Aladeen with his troop of female bodyguards.
Happily, the movie is impossible to predict and there are some shocking surprises in the finale scenes. Anna Farris, with her short cropped hair and bushy armpits, provides some welcome female presence.
For all the Muslims who protested the movie without seeing it, the joke is on them. Come on, Cohen abuses everyone equally in this film for laughs. Remember the tumult over Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian.” Now that is a classic comedy.
The Dictator Movie Review
by Rick Grant