When I heard that Sacha Baron Cohen was making The Dictator, I said to myself, I shall see that movie. You see, Cohen’s movies don’t require any sort of expectation. Either it will be bad, or it will be very bad, and when those are your only two options you can really sit back and enjoy a movie. And that’s exactly what I did.
Aladeen is The Dictator of Waadeya, a made up country in the Middle East. Aladeen’s activities range from executing multiple people a day, planning and winning his own olympics, having sex with anyone he wants, and tending to his nuclear program. When the UN expresses concern with Waadeya’s nuclear program, Aladeen travels to the US to defend his right to oppress his people and make big pointy bombs. Things start to go poorly for the lovable Dictator when a racist body guard (John C. Reilly) captures Aladeen and removes his precious beard. Even though The Dictator is replaced by a bumbling idiot of a body double, but Aladeen fights to regain his dictatorship with the help of an unsuspecting hippie activist and an old nuclear physicist who mysteriously survives execution.
This movie is hilarious. I laughed nearly the entire time, but was a little ashamed of myself when I stopped to think about how offensive the jokes really are. Then I realized something: Sacha Baron Cohen is a genius. The Dictator is supposed to be offensive. After all, the main character is a caricature of the worst kind of person on the planet–the kind of person who hates all non white races, oppresses women, and takes everyone’s life for granted except his own. We laugh at him in the same way that we laugh at Mahmoud Amadinejad for claiming that there are no homosexuals in Iran. But here’s where the real genius comes in: while The Dictator is a film that mocks those rulers who refuse to accept democracy, at its core, the film is really a critique of America and its failure to be a true democracy. Pay attention between the laughs, and you may feel the gentle jab at American politics from a hilarious and intelligent Sacha Baron Cohen. Or don’t pay attention to the subtle intellectual dimension of the film, you’ll still laugh.
The Dictator is rated R for good reason. The language is pervasive, the nudity gratuitous and the jokes disgusting. Enter the theater with the sense of humor of a middle schooler.