I typically frown on personal reflection in a film review, but I hate Sacha Baron Cohen. In college, I hated, “Ali G.”, in graduated school I loathed, “Borat”, and when I became a professor I could not stomach, “Bruno.” I hate Cohen so much that I cheered in the theater when his throat was slit in, “Sweeney Todd.” I hate so Cohen so much that I was expecting to pray for my own demise when I saw, “The Dictator.” I was proven wrong.
Thanks to this film, I have flip-flopped on my opinion almost as much as the Red and Blue Teams in Congress have on policies they privately support only to change directions during an election year. I am now a fan of Cohen thanks to his portrayal of “Admiral General Aladeen.”
Steeling behavioral traits of Middle Eastern dictators, Cohen magically blends Saddam Hussein, Uday Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, topping them off with the bumbling of a Peter Sellers to create a film that I almost needed an oxygen tank in order to catch my breathe. The opening dedication to Kim Jung-il alone was worth the price of admission, let alone satirizing the listed world leaders.
The character of “Zoey” played by Anna Faris, is the hippie, unshaven, ultra-politically correct fascist, self-righteous, overly entitled, psuedo-intellectual, that must save the world from itself. Faris played this part so brilliantly, I almost felt I was back at San Francisco State University getting yelled for having my own opinion that different from the vocal minority.
John C. Reilly’s conversation with Aladeen in his confessing his hatred for Middle Easterners and claiming that, “Everyone over there to me is an Arab…maybe you should see the Empire State Building before one of your Sand Monkey cousins decides to blow it up,” was the exact sentiment I have come across when people find out I am Middle Eastern, especially since I am not an Arab, nor Israeli, nor Muslim.
Several Middle Eastern misconceptions are touched upon in the film and the helicopter scene between Aladeen and “Maroush” (Adeel Akhtar) had me rolling in the aisles. Ironically, one of those misconceptions shown was the majority of the cast playing Middle Easterners were Indians, adding even more to the view of Reilly’s character that everyone over in west and southern Asia are exactly the same.
If I wasn’t a journalist, I would have never seen this movie based solely on Cohen , but I am definitely glad the occupation was the catalyst, forcing me into the theater and proclaiming this to be the funniest movie of the past three years.
Cohen has made a new fan with this film. His depiction of stereotypes, racism and sexism were so off the charts that event he ultra-fascist, tree hugging, hippie will have to laugh at the absurdity…but still probably won’t to keep up appearances. The genius of this film was incorporating Gaddafi’s virgin guards, Saddam Hussein’s doubles and Uday Hussein’s gold plated everything to the mix. His description of a dictatorship that parallels the modern American government is absolutely priceless and for this scene alone, I have to see the movie for at least a second, if not third time.
This is an absolute must see, 5 out of 5, I am only hoping for a director’s cut to be released on Blu-Ray and DVD.