I’m not one to judge a film based on politics. I want to sit down, hear a good story, see some good acting, laugh at a great comedy or feel stirred by an epic drama, and leave who went to whose fundraiser at the door. But when that rare movie comes along that touches on every political theme a foreign policy junkie loves, it’s the politics — or in this case, the unabashed political incorrectness — that makes the film.
For all of the mocking they invite, not enough films have really goofed on dictators. Team America: World Police did an utterly classic dressing down of Kim Jong-Il (still mad they never sold a stuffed doll in movie merchandising), UN weapons inspectors (Hans Brix!), terrorists in Dirkadirkastan, and Alec Baldwin.
When The Dictator opened with a dedication in loving memory of Kim Jong-Il, I had high hopes for this latest Sacha Baron Cohen outing. And for the most part, it didn’t disappoint, pulling the eccentricities of the era’s goofiest tyrants such as Gadhafi (and his all-female bodyguard squad) into one character.
Past punking people as he did as Borat and Bruno, Cohen is Admiral General Aladeen, dictator of the fictional North African country Wadiya, which is squeezed next to Sudan on a cable-news map (he calls blacks in America “sub-Saharans”). In a classic speech, he tells the country and the world that their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and for medical purposes only. By the time he gets to the part about not wanting to take out Israel, he can’t contain his laughter.
And as he promptly goes to visit his secret nuclear weapons facility, it’s clear that the main target is Iran — in a later scene, supervising a store in Brooklyn, he makes employees call him the “Supreme Grocer.” He refers to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a guy who looks like a “snitch on Miami Vice.” (I’d always thought B-movie director, myself.) His nuclear missile is called the “Beard of Doom.”
Like the “ronery” Kim Jong-Il puppet of Team America fame, Aladeen is lonely and wants someone to cuddle — something more than the hooker who quickly gets dressed, noting that she’s due at the Italian prime minister’s. It’s little digs like this that are cleverly woven throughout.