Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"The Dictator" with Sasha Baron Cohen (2012)

This is the first film I have seen by Sacha Cohen. I wasn’t really interested in the Borat films he has released in the past, but this one seemed more along the lines of “An American Carol”, so I figured I would give it a shot. I’m glad I did.

It is also a  reeling, fast paced film which explores, in a comedic fashion, the actual events which take place each day and drive the insanity of world politics. Sadly; though the film is hysterically funny; much of it is not too far-fetched. Watching this film, with the Iraq War still fresh in our minds, helps call attention to the strange and haphazard way in which our leaders sometimes deal with world politics.

The plot is simple; it concerns a Mid-Eastern dictator from the fictional country of Wadiyah named Aladeen, played by Sacha Cohen. He has been threatening the world with a nuclear weapon which may, or my not exist. When he is summoned to New York for a conference at the United Nations, things don’t go as planned. His second in command, Tamir, played by Ben Kingsley in a delightful departure from his more “serious” roles, secretly wants Aladeen gone, and helps to engineer the plot that finds the great dictator beardless and without any means of support in the greatest city in the world. 

Because of his opposition to a peace treaty he is marked for death by one side, and also sought by his own military. In addition he has all of the many enemies he has created during his years in power in Wadiyah to worry about.

Adopting the name Efawadh, he finds himself in Brooklyn with a pretty young American woman who has no idea who he is. She owns an organic food store and is very independent, which is something Aladeen is not used to. But there is something about her that makes him want to understand more about life.

Soon he discovers that the neighborhood he is living in is inhabited by all of the people he has formerly ordered executed. It seems that his trusted guards were not carrying out those executions, which were not justified in the first place, and sending the condemned to settle in Brooklyn. He begins to recognize them, as they do him. Clearly, the great Aladeen is in a bind.

When the time for the vote comes at the United Nations, a “double” has been prepared to take his place and sign an historic peace treaty with the world. If Aladeen can get into the General Assembly and denounce the impostor, then he will be the feared dictator again, with the whole world groveling at his feet. Finding the impostor and taking his place is no challenge, and he mounts the podium to nullify the treaty.

As he begins to declare all that is wrong with democracy, the girl from Brooklyn manages to arrive at the General Assembly. Upon seeing her, he begins to glorify all of the things that he finds so imperfect about democracy, realizing that only the imperfections of true freedom could have created a woman as wonderful as the one he has found.

Directed by Larry Charles, and written by Sacha Cohen and Alec Berg, this film is a wonderful satire about the fools and clowns who run our planet. It’s also about the humanity that they may not realize exists in us all; perhaps even them-selves. This is a very funny, and true to life film.

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