W hat’s the story?
General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) is the tyrannical, bloodthirsty dictator of the small yet powerful North African country Wadiya.
Having militarised the nation, he takes things one step too far when he and his army of scientists successfully process uranium for use in nuclear warheads and the UN is not best pleased.
Invited to New York to explain his actions, Aladeen plans to put the Western ‘pig-dogs’ in their place but, instead, he finds himself kidnapped and replaced by a doppelgänger who is nothing more than a goat farming simpleton.
The plot to overthrow Aladeen has been masterminded by his devious uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley) who has become tired of his nephew’s oppressive regime and wants democracy to reign in Wadiya.
However, the surprisingly resourceful Aladeen escapes his captors, albeit without his trademark beard and, unrecognisable on the streets of New York City, Aladeen teams up with Zoey (Anna Faris), the owner of a vegan, non-profit grocery store, and outcast nuclear scientist Nadal (Jason Mantzoukas), a man who Aladeen once sentenced to death.
With these unlikely allies at his side, Aladeen fights to get back to his rightful place at Wadiya’s seat of power and stop the signing of a treaty that will end his reign of terror for good.
It’s back to film-making basics for comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and director Larry Charles with The Dictator, a comedy as un-PC and offensive as they come.
Risqué, satirical humour is nothing new to Cohen and Charles but, while Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and Brüno were hilarious comedy setpieces comprising a mix of brilliantly improvised, candid-camera style hi-jinks and lightly scripted mayhem, The Dictator is 100 per cent scripted.
As a result, it is ultimately uninspired, with a woefully mundane plot that goes to huge efforts to squeeze in as many politically incorrect and offensive jokes as possible.
Unfortunately, the result is pathetic and we’re left with a Sacha Baron Cohen film that’s not half as funny as his previous big-screen exploits.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a few laugh-out loud moments but, on the whole, the comedic chemistry just isn’t here, partly due to an unlikable character thrown into a rather standard ‘fish out of water’ scenario. The result is disappointing to say the least.
There are also pointless cameos from the likes of Megan Fox (yes, the bit in the trailer is really just what’s in the movie), Edward Norton and John C Reilly, all of whom could have been put to better use here.
Altogether lazy and disappointing, apart from one or two humorous moments, The Dictator really isn’t worth the price of admission.