Dictator, The (2012)
Director: Larry Charles
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley
Plot: The heroic story of a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.
Rating: M18 for strong crude and sexual content, brief male nudity, language and some violent images.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
“Is this a boy or an abortion?”
You got to hand it to Sacha Baron Cohen when it comes to stirring up controversy in the most comedic of ways. His latest collaboration with director Larry Charles, who previously made Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) and Bruno (2009), is a winner.
The Dictator, as it is called, is a full-on assault on the perils of being a dictator in the modern world. Of course, expect fireworks of the politically incorrect kind as Cohen wreaks havoc in the lives of seemingly ordinary Americans, who if they are lucky would only be slightly bemused by the antics of his character.
Well, you see, his character is General Aladeen, a dictator who has ruled his nation for decades with an iron fist. But due to mounting pressure from world leaders, Aladeen is invited to the US to sign his country's first constitution that would make it a democracy.
The film follows him to the US, with trouble ensuing as conspiracy and double-crossing enter the fray. But all this in a day's work for Aladeen, who is stripped of his power, and forced to survive on the streets of New York while at the same time plotting his return to power.
The Dictator is consistently entertaining, with never-ending laughs from humour that is not aimed at the average folk. There is no compromise as Cohen, who co-wrote the screenplay with three other writers, turns up the crassness in one hilarious comedic set-piece after another.
It is a return to form for Cohen, whose Bruno left much to be desired. When I say return to form, it means to expect nothing less than a tsunami of offensive behaviour that will numb your funny bone. That is, if your funny bone is wired to 'enjoy' such humour.
A sequence involving Aladeen trying to help a pregnant woman on the verge of giving birth is the epitome of this brand of humour. It will leave you gleefully disgusted or just plain disgusted. But hey, you already know what you are in for when you gleefully bought your ticket.
The Dictator also stars Ben Kingsley (playing Aladeen's right-hand man), who reunites with Cohen after the success of Hugo (2011). The performances here are played as straight-faced as they are stereotypically possible. Don't expect too much seriousness, but do expect loads of bizarre, cringe-inducing humour. Everything in a swiftly-paced film that could be one of the year's uniquely funniest.
Verdict: Vulgar, politically incorrect, and most crucially, it nails our funny bone.
GRADE: B+ (8/10 or 3.5 stars)
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