The Dictator

A review - by Shlomoh Sherman
May 18, 2012

The Dictator(2012)
Director: Larry Charles
Writers: Sacha Baron Cohen, Alec Berg, David Mandel, Jeff Schaffer
Stars: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris and Ben Kingsley
Plot Keywords: Dictator - oil-rich African kingdom - Democracy - 911 Joke - Torture
Genre: Comedy
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)
Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, brief male nudity, language and some violent images
Release Date: May 16, 2011 (USA)
Filming Locations: Barcelona, Cataluña, Corralejo, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Plaza de España, Seville, Andalucía Seville, Andalucía, Spain, Morocco, New York City
Company Credits: Four by Two Films
Run Time: 83 minutes
Taglines: Enriched uranium, pointy headed and round headed missiles
Quotes: General Aladeen:
Give a man a vagina and he will spick for the day, teach a man to use his hand as a vagina and he will spick for a life time.
I am the last in a long line of now-fallen dictators; Kim, Gadhafi, Saddam, Cheney.
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.
Country: USA
Language: English, mock-Waadeyan
Trivia: In the promotional bust shot of the main character against a white backdrop, Almadeen is wearing medal ribbons including, among others: The Antarctica Service Medal Ribbon (third row, far left); The Kuwait Liberation of Kuwait Medal Ribbon (seventh row, far left); The Second World War Philippine Defense Medal Ribbon (fifth row, far left,) and the Philippine Liberation Medal Ribbon (fifth row, second from left. What appears to be the Belgian Croix de Guerre Medal Ribbon (fifth row, far right); The French Croix de Guerre medal (fifth row, second from right).There are at least two cases of duplication: row 16, far right is the same as row 14, second from right, and row 11, far left is the same as row 9, second from right. Altogether, he's wearing 68 medals. The teaser movie poster shows at least one medal (the Belgian Croix de Guerre) changed, and they "loop": the 11th and 12th rows repeat as the 18th and 19th rows.

I finally got to see the movie for which I have been wating these many months. As a major fan of Sacha Baron Cohen, I anticipated that The Dictator would surpass both Borat and Bruno, two films which made me laugh my derrier off. Alas, my TOOCHES is still with me.

Was the film funny? Well, there were a few laugh moments as you would expect in any of Cohen's films but - sad to say, Allah be praised because this movie can't be. Most of the farce and slapstick fall short of what we expect from Cohen. And the story line leads us into situations that are more pathetically stupid than funny. Sacha and his brother, as well as the other writers, have tried to hard to be funny with a theme that easily could lend itself to humor but unlike Chaplin's THE GREAT DICTATOR, Cohen's movie lacks real style. Even though Chaplin's film was a work of genius, it's hard to laugh at it now in the light of the horrors that the Nazis brought upon the world. And in The Dictator, the ill-chosen so-called "funny" references to September 11 detract from a movie that already started off on the wrong foot.

Moreover, “The Dictator“ carefully avoids insulting Islam or Muslims. In fact, neither word is ever mentioned in the movie, even though the movie is clearly about a North African dictator who is – what else? –an Arab Muslim. Arabs aren’t mentioned, either. On the other hand, Jews and Blacks are repeatedly the butt of jokes. I was personally turned off by Cohen's use of his character playing a very vivid video game of Islamic terrorists at the Munich Olympics.

To be sure, there are clever moments in the film such as when, before the UN world leaders, General Aladeen delivers a monologue in which he says, among other things, that if America were to become a dictatorship, then one family would control the media; the country would prevent people from getting affordable healthcare and education; the government could listen in on people's private conversations; and 99% of the wealth would be owned by the wealthiest 1%.

But the few moments of good laughs are drowned out by the boring, unfunny plot. I expected more from Sacha Baron Cohen. Borat and Bruno both prepared me to expect more and therefore The Dictator left me disappointed. The Dictator is not Cohen at his best. Far from it.

I can't understand why a talented actor like Ben Kingsley took part in this film when, I am sure, that he does not lack for calls to read scripts.

On the other hand, Megan Fox playing herself while embarrassing herself, comes as no big surprise. She's losing whatever looks she had in TRANSFORMERS and probably gets little or no calls to read scripts.

Allah be praised for the elderly retired here in the Infidel great Satan. I was the only person [imperialist Zionist oppresor] in the theater, and so, when I left, there was no sticky stuff on the floor.

Euclid, OH
May 18, 2012


Cast, first billed only:
Sacha Baron Cohen ... Aladeen / Efawadh
Sayed Badreya ... Omar
Michele Berg ... Aladeen's Mother
Rocky Citron ... Baby Aladeen
Liam Campora ... Aladeen Age 6
Aasif Mandvi ... Doctor
Rizwan Manji ... Patient
Rick Chambers ... Newscaster Voiceover (voice)
Elsayed Mohamed ... Wadiyan Olympic Official
Adeel Akhtar ... Maroush
Horatio Sanz ... Aide on Balcony
Ben Kingsley ... Tamir
Elena Goode       ... Virgin Guard
Nazanin Homa ... Virgin Guard
Dawn Zimniak ... Virgin Guard
Megan Fox       ... Herself

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