Under the Radar

Back on Track With The Dictator

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Brüno proved that Borat's amazing fake documentary trick was only really going to work one time, so The Dictator returns to a format that's more like the traditional romantic comedies that Sacha Baron Cohen parodied in his first movie Ali G Indahouse.

That doesn't mean that The Dictator won't profoundly disturb anyone who's offended by terrorism jokes or the near-endless stream of sexist and racist comments that pour from the mouth of Cohen's Admiral General Aladeen. Since that group includes almost no one who reads UTR, it's pretty safe to say that our readers will find this hilarious. It's much funnier than Brüno and strongly suggests that Cohen has a lot more movies in him as a kind of dirtbag Jerry Lewis.

Aladeen is the ruler of Wadiya, a fictional North African country on the verge of getting the atomic bomb. He's a small-time despot, constantly ordering the executions of his real and imagined enemies and using his nation's limited resources to pay for sex with Hollywood starlets. After international outrage builds over his bomb program, Aladeen agrees to travel to NYC to defend his program before the United Nations.

Once he arrives in the United States, his top aide Tamir (played by Sir Ben Kingsley) plots to have him killed and replaced by a double so that Tamir can declare a false "democracy" and sell out Wadiya to international oil interests. Aladeen survives the assassination attempt, learns that his "executed" enemies have all emigrated to the Little Wadiya neighborhood in NYC and plots to return to power after meeting a radical feminist natural foods grocer named Zoey, fearlessly played by Anna Faris.

Aladeen (s0rt-of) sees the light about democracy, wins the heart of the girl and returns to power. The plot is pretty slight but it gives Cohen plenty of opportunity to do his fish-out-of-water, coming-to-America thing and tweak our a lot of our country's post-9/11 uneasiness about anyone who looks Middle Eastern. The movie clocks in at 82 minutes, so there's no time wasted on half-hearted character exploration or ham-fisted moments of personal growth.

Cohen has saved the Borat elements for the movie's promotion this time, including pouring Kim Jong-Il's "ashes" on Ryan Seacrest at the Oscars or forcing a positive review out of his Hugo director Martin Scorsese on SNL (below).

The Dictator: better than Brüno, different than Borat, sort of like Ali G Indahouse (but dirtier). If you think you'd like it, you will. If Cohen offended you before, he doesn't care and wants you to stay away.

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