In your home country, you are all-powerful, worshipped, albeit forcibly, and seen as God come to Earth. Then, you are abandoned in a country where you’re despised by the public as a whole and must make a living. What do you do?
Admiral General Hafez Aladeen (played by Sacha Baron Cohen) has been master of all he surveys in the North African Republic of Wadiya for decades. He’s immature, anti-Semitic, has such poor judgment, and so little control over his libido that his bodyguards are all female and chosen primarily for their looks. In addition, he spends a fortune of his country’s money for the pleasure of Megan Fox’s company in the bedroom. Still, all is not perfect in the world of our conceited ruler. He must face the combined challenges of building his struggling nuclear program and keeping U.N. inspectors from discovering it. All while his right hand and uncle, Tamir (played by Ben Kingsley) grows frustrated with working for such a buffoon. Believing that he rightly belongs in the seat of power, Tamir (Kingsley) hires an American mercenary named Clayton (played by John C. Reilly) to kidnap Aladeen so that he can be replaced a look-alike they employ to foil assassination attempts. The look-alike, (also played by Cohen) is a simpleton and will be much easier to manipulate than the real Aladeen who managed to escape his captors, but not before they’d stripped him of his decorated military uniform and cut off his trademark beard. After meeting him outside the U.N., Zoey, an activist and operator of an alternative lifestyle food co-op (played by Anna Faris) offers Aladeen a job, believing he was a refugee from the oppressive regime rather than the covertly ousted oppressor himself.
Now, having not seen Borat or Bruno, perhaps I was unprepared for Cohen’s brand of comedy. The director, Larry Charles, was also behind the camera for Cohen’s previous efforts but I’m only familiar with his work as an alumnus of the Seinfeld writing staff and as the director of the Bill Maher documentary Religulous. I am a fan of both but comparing The Dictator to Seinfeld is like comparing apples to… well, Seinfeld. And the obvious references to eccentricities exhibited by Saddam Hussein and former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi were funny, but the protagonist himself neither funny nor sympathetic. To me, he was rarely, if ever, interesting. Others might enjoy this film, I didn't.