Directed by- Larry Charles
Running Time- 83 min.
Sacha Baron Cohen has established a reputation for playing rude, outrageous, obnoxious characters who impose their egotistical way on the world around them. So he was the obvious choice and perfect actor to play Admiral General Hasef Aladeen, the dictator of the North African Republic of Wadiya in this outrageous comedy satire.
Hasef is a caricature of an insane dictator. He has the typical Middle Eastern beard. He wears a white military suit covered in medals he undoubtedly awarded himself. He declares himself the leader of everything in his country including surgeon and even represents his own country in the Olympic games. He has a luxurious mansion and a ridiculous fortune that he uses to have sex with otherwise unattainable women like Megan Fox, who shows off a good sense of humor about herself by playing herself in the movie. And he orders the execution of people around him with the flick of his wrist across his throat. He gives those orders on childish whims and without provocation.
His right hand man and closest adviser is his uncle Tamir, played by Ben Kingsley. He wants Hasef to allow Wadiya permission to sell oil from its vast oil reserves to other nations and make billion of dollars. Since Hasef insists on hoarding his country's oil, Tamir plots to have him assassinated and replaced with an idiot look-a-like Tamir can use like a puppet to make Wadiya a democracy and start selling the oil.
Hasef is abducted on his trip to New York to address the United Nations by an American assassin hired by Tamir who poses as Hasef's head of security played by John C. Riley. But the assassin is inept and only manages to take the dictators precious beard off before Hasef is able to escape.
Now striped of his identity no one recognizes him and he can not get back inside the hotel he was staying at in New York when he realizes he has been replaced by his double. When he calls the double, “not a real leader,” a crowd of already angry protestors rally around his cry and he is pegged as anti-Aladeen by an activist named Zoey played by Anna Faris. I've believed since the “Scary Movie” series that if you want to make sure your movie loses credibility cast Anna Faris in it. And even though she fit the part of the righteous but sweet owner of an alternative goods store who offers Hasef a job- only because she doesn't know who he really is- I couldn't get past her reputation for being a bad actress and it definitely knocked this movie down a peg.
The movie adds some romantic comedy as Hasef plans on using Zoey for her access to the hotel but they instead wind up falling for each other after Zoey refuses Hasef's sexual advances and teaches him to masturbate- a revelation that seems to change him. He in turn uses his skills as a dictator to help save her failing business.
Meanwhile it turns out Wadiyan rebels infiltrated Hasef's intelligence unit while he was ordering people to be executed and all those people were instead exiled to America, to Little Wadiya in New York where Hasef finds his former nuclear weapons adviser, Nuclear Nadal. Nadal, wanting his old job back, hatches a hair-brained scheme that helps Hasef replace his beard and gain access to the hotel after Hasef's plan of stealing the access from Zoey fails when he finally reveals his true identity to her.
Once back inside, Hasef addresses the United Nations and makes the case for dictatorships. The ultimate joke is all the examples he gives as to why dictatorships are better than democracy's describe how America has been for a long time. That alone makes this one of the most purely funny political satires in many years.
Rude, obnoxious characters like this one and Borat ("Borat" was also directed by Larry Charles) are not for everyone. The comedy is undeniably funny but pretty low-brow. But for those who appreciate Cohen for the comical satirist with a chameleon-like ability to transform himself that he is, this film is a hilarious, outrageous addition to his already impressive repertoire.
Review Grade- B+