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Central African Rep
Must Watch Videos
Movie review: The Dictator
Joseph Mosselson | Fri, 06 Jul 2012
Admiral General Aladeen is the latest creation of comedic chameleon Sacha Baron Cohen. He’s the supreme leader of the fictional North African country of Wadiya, who must travel to New York to address the UN while his older brother schemes to have him assassinated and snatch power for himself. Unlike Borat or Bruno, however, Aladeen exists purely in a fictional world in
. But he’s just as effective when it comes to skewering sacred cows.
If anything, Aladeen operates on a larger scale; it’s hard to imagine Baron Cohen being able to stage one of his real-world stunts at the General Assembly of the UN, for example. In the world of
however, anything goes. Particularly when it comes to comedy, the film ranges across the map. From Three Stooges-style slapstick to gross-out humour to “who’s on first”-type verbal patter, Baron Cohen flings it all at the camera. His jokes have a remarkable hit-to-miss ratio, considering the sheer amount of material that is up there.
Baron Cohen takes a similarly inclusive approach when it comes to the targets of his satire. While Aladeen is a clear jibe at megalomaniacal maniacs and the excesses of absolute power, he also finds space in the film to take shots at self-righteous hippie activists, evil multinational corporations and pompous political pundits. He doesn’t limit his barbs to soft targets either; it’s hard to think of many major movies that would devote a good five minutes of uninterrupted monologue to skewering pretty much the entire current conception of American democracy, but Baron Cohen, for lack of a better term, goes there.
In a braver, cooler world, Baron Cohen’s performance could well be described as Oscar-worthy. As it is,
it’s unlikely that they’ll let him get within 100 meters of the ceremony
, never mind an actual statue. But with its razor-sharp satirical edge and childish glee in pushing the boundaries of good taste,
has the makings of a future classic, destined to stand alongside mocking masterpieces such as
and Woody Allen’s
. Which is a bold claim to make about a movie that features a scene of
two characters falling in love when they accidentally hold hands inside a pregnant woman’s uterus.
opens in cinemas in South Africa on Fri 6 Jul.
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