The Dictator (2012)

Sacha Baron Cohen is known to most people as Borat. He created that character, along with Bruno and Ali G for a British television show "Da Ali G" show. The entire series was based on three cartoonish characters doing supposedly serious interviews with people who weren't in on the gag. After doing similar movies with Borat and Bruno, Baron Cohen has retired those characters to focus on being a regular actor.

"The Dictator" focuses on President Prime Minister Admiral General Haffaz Aladeen, a childish, sexist, anti-Semitic, paranoid ruler of the country of Wadiya. Aladeen compares to Kim-Jong il, Saddam Hussein, and other despotic leaders. The plot begins with Aladeen going to America to address the United Nations in regards to his plans to build a nuclear arsenal. Aladeen is kidnapped, able to escape, but not without losing his beard. The change in appearance allows him to blend in, assume a new identity and try to win back his old stature.

A lot of people are going to be offended by this movie at various points. I have a really open mind when it comes to movies and entertainment, and I understand satire and shock value. There were no moments that offended me personally, but there were a few times where I could see people on either side of the socio-political spectrum being up in arms.

Many people consider the movie to be offensive to Arabics and blatantly pro-America. Others look at it as mocking American values and pointing out the flaws and hypocrisy of our government. I really consider Baron Cohen to be an equal-opportunity offender. He takes shots at everyone: Americans, Arabs, Israelis, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, black, white, Asian.

When it comes to judging a comedy, I tend to go with the memorability factor. Did "The Dictator" make me laugh a good amount? Sure. Is it a movie that I will be quoting and referencing for a long time to come? Probably not. It's definitely worth a watch as long as you go in reminding yourself to not be overly sensitive.



On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "The Dictator" gets a 6 out of 10.

[Each week, Varacchi explores cinema from his own perspective. From indie to foreign to mainstream, he'll watch it all. Suggestions and recommendations are welcome, leave a comment below. CLICK HERE for the Celluloid Hero archives]