Published Thursday, 17 May 2012
Not for the faint-hearted, political correctness has once again been abandoned by the British comedian for wanton buffoonery and slapstick satire.
If you have seen Sacha Baron Cohen's previous films, then you know exactly what you are in for; an all out comic assault on your sensibilities. He may have ditched the shock doc spoofs of Borat and Bruno in favour of a more conventional approach, but the colourful result is every bit as savage and sidesplitting.
Baron Cohen plays Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen, the self-styled despot of the oil rich North African Republic of Wadiya. Oscar winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley appears as the supremely evil and treacherous henchman Tamir. You know you are in for a scream when Sir Ben greets the Dictator, not by shaking hands or graciously bowing, but by licking his armpits! Hilarious!
Mega maniacal and mega bearded Dictator Aladeen is busy building weapons of mass destruction but faces the wrath of the United Nations. He is therefore forced to travel with his entourage of female bodyguards to New York to avert war. Once in the Big Apple, the Dictator faces a devious coup and loses both his power and his beard.
Once down and out in the USA, the former tyrant Aladeen hooks up with an unlikely ally, a vegan feminist human rights protester played by Anna Farris. As the oddest of couples fall in love, we fall about laughing at a succession of riotous and shocking scenes. "Twenty dollars a day for wi-fi!" exclaims the Dictator when checking into his New York hotel, "And they call me an international criminal!"
This is a movie that pulls no punches; after all it is dedicated to the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il! Baron Cohen has great fun lampooning the ridiculous posturing of various despots from our recent history. It's just a shame that many of the worst dictators like Gaddafi are not around to witness some of their real-life antics shown up for what they really were, simply ludicrous.
Unlike Baron Cohen's previous film characters, The Dictator was not first seen on TV but is a brand new creation for the big screen. His real masterstroke is teaming up once again with the film's director and comedy supremo Larry Charles. His surefire comic touch (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm) keeps gag upon gag coming at a ferocious rate.
For some, Sacha Baron Cohen may be the head honcho of bad taste, leaving no country, culture or creed free from his comic cannonade. But there is simply nothing better than laughing out loud with a gleeful audience in a packed cinema. For me, this is when the big screen experience really comes alive but unfortunately rarely happens these days. So for that alone, viva The Dictator.
The Dictator (Cert 15) is now on general release.