Reel Reviews: All hail the beloved oppressor

Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator is all about Aladeen.

  • May. 25, 2012 10:00 a.m.
Sacha Baron Cohen returns to the screen with a new alter ego

Sacha Baron Cohen returns to the screen with a new alter ego

Admiral General Aladeen, the supreme leader of Wadiya has a problem. He’s supposed to deliver a speech to the UN in New York, but a spy has stolen his beard and his second in command has replaced him with a body double and his own agenda.

Unable to get back to his sycophants, Aladeen has to rely on his limited wits and absent charm to convince evil Americans to help him.

Accustomed to complete power, including the ability to change any rule, even language, (Aladeen has replaced over 60 words in the dictionary with his own name, including both “positive” and “negative,”) will the dictator come to learn the lessons he needs to restore normalcy?

We say, “See it, it’s Aladeen.”

TAYLOR: Last Friday, Mr. Howe made his annual pilgrimage to his reptilian home planet, Pintar, so I thought I’d take my oldest friend and an active local politician, Ryan Nitchie, to see The Dictator. What did you think of the film, Mr. Nitchie?

NITCHIE: I love Sacha Baron Cohen’s warped sense of humour, however, I was a little worried about this film, as his wheelhouse is improvisational comedy in character, like Borat. In this film he had to work within the confines of a script and rely on his comedic writing ability, but he succeeds.

TAYLOR: I’m not sure Cohen’s guerrilla style would have worked in this film. For one thing, he’s much too famous to hide behind makeup, folks would simply recognize him and the illusion would be lost. Secondly, I’m not sure anyone could run around New York City as a middle eastern dictator causing trouble, without that trouble becoming real. I think Cohen might be a genius, but he’s often preoccupied with shocking people. This film wasn’t so much about the gross factor, (although it was very 14A,) as it was about social and political satire, fundamental bigotry or recent American history.

NITCHIE: Having watched a lot of the pre-release interviews on TV you can see his comedic genius in the subtle nuances of his dialogue with the interviewers. He often slightly fused Aladeen with Borat, which left me with tears in my eyes from laughter. I hoped for a little more of that in this film, but I did get used to the script, which was also good.

TAYLOR: I have only the movie to go on. Although I nearly rolled my eyes a couple times, just when I thought Cohen was taking things too far, he took them further and I wound up laughing.

NITCHIE: I’m inspired by his new-age managerial and real time coaching techniques as the general manager of his love interest’s supermarket. I wonder if I will be allowed to change the name on my smock to “Supreme Grocer?” And as far as political satire goes, there certainly seems to be some merit to governance via a benevolent dictatorship (as I quickly swipe my hands in front of my throat in a cutting motion.)

TAYLOR: Yikes, there goes your future mayoralship.

–– Taylor gives The Dictator 3 failed executions out of 5.

–– Nitchie gives it 3 pointy missiles out of 5.

The film is currently showing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

–– Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are both Vernon-based movie critics who review films for the Morning Star.