The story of The Dictator is of… well… a dictator. Admiral General Aladeen is a ruthless dictator from the fictional Republic of Wadaiya. On his trip to New York City, he’s kidnapped and his beard is removed, making him almost unrecognizable. Now he has to find a way to get back into power.
So we have another film by Sacha Baron Cohen. But this isn’t a mockumentary like Borat and Brüno. It has a flowing narrative and is more fictionalized. There are lots of comedic moments, but they aren’t distracting with the story, and even the scenes which are only there for laughs have a place in the narrative somehow. Sacha Baron Cohen creates another character who’s supposed to be offensive and annoying, but again gets our likability. He’s a very cartoony character in a very cartoony universe, so it’s easier for us to not take him too seriously and not get offended by the sexist, racist or stereotypical jokes.
As for the jokes, they were hit-and-miss (but mostly hit than miss). This reminded me of the South Park level of humor (except South Park has gore… I don’t remember The Dictator having much gore), and for the most part I laughed a lot in this movie. I didn’t really laugh at the gross-out humor in general, but there were a few exceptions. I found myself laughing a lot, but other times I found myself face-palming. I guess people would agree with me when I say that about half (or more than half… I don’t know) of the jokes were hysterical and the rest was mediocre or too disgusting. But if someone disagrees with me and likes the gross-out humor, then they’ll adore this movie. I doubt the racist/stereotyping/political humor will offend anyone, because the film isn’t taking itself seriously at all. But if you can’t handle gross humor, this isn’t for you. The jokes that worked were more forced than subtle, but they really work in such a cartoony universe as this one.
As for the story itself, there isn’t much to say. A mean guy changes his ways through the events of the story. It’s kinda like The Emperor’s New Groove. The filmmakers were concerned about making jokes, but that’s obviously not a bad thing for a comedy. Some comedies are only concerned about making laughs, like Airplane! And some comedies manage to make great jokes and have a good balance with a good, interesting and probably serious story, like Annie Hall. This is 100% a comedy film. The reason I bring up The Emperor’s New Groove is that the two movies have the same plot. However, they make it extremely clear what’s going to happen. Maybe not through forced dialogue, but the film puts the pieces together for us the audience to figure out. A young girl named Zoey happens to find Aladeen and wants to help him (not knowing that he’s General Aladeen, but instead thinking his name is Allison Burgers). The only problem is that she’s a not so attractive, politically correct, green, feminist and non-racist activist. They throw it at us right in the face. HEY! It’s a cliché! Two complete opposites meet and the girl teaches the guy to become a better person! You know exactly what’s going to happen from this moment onwards! And we even find out immediately who the bad guy is through forced exposition. All of that irony works! The tone of the film isn’t serious at all, and the filmmakers wanted to have fun, so the filmmakers are telling us that it doesn’t really matter whether we know exactly where the plot’s going, what’s going to happen scene by scene, and what clichés the film is following. We’re in for the jokes and it works for a comedy like this.
So… there’s not much to say about this film. It’s a comedy. Did I like it? Yeah. I think others will too if they want mindless fun. If the gross-out gags (probably my least favorite part of the film) are too much, they’ll hate this film. But to me they weren’t distracting. The rest is hilarious!
Oh yeah, other than celebrity names playing the roles of some characters in the film, like some of the cast from Saturday Night Live and even Bobby Lee from MADtv, we also get Megan Fox and Edward Norton in their cameos. Wow, that’s weird.