The Dictator: General Aladeen in Da House

by The Kent film blog, by Lewis Dyson Thursday, May 10 2012

After the global success of Borat in 2006, the notoriety of the follow up Bruno, and not to mention the extravagant public appearances, Sacha Baron Cohen must have wondered how he could continue his career if everyone recognised him and his characters. The solution he has come up with in The Dictator is to depart from the hidden camera hijinks he became famous for and instead go back to a more conventional narrative comedy style. But I wonder whether this was a choice on his part or if he is a victim of his own success.

Luckily the film itself is pretty funny - fans of Baron Cohen will not be disappointed - but the bad news is it does not reach the giddy heights of Borat. In fact, it has more in common with Ali G in Da House than his last two mockumentaries. 

The latest character to be unleashed on audiences is General Aladeen, the beloved oppressor of the fictional North African state of Wadiya. He struts around his oil rich nation as the supreme ruler where all his subjects have to obey his every whim. That is until his jealous uncle (played by Ben Kingsley) stages a coup during a trip to a United Nations summit in New York. Aladeen escapes but robbed of  his trademark beard he is forced to walk the streets as an anonymous foreigner. Liberal American Zoe (Anna Faris) takes pity on him and takes the deposed leader on as an employee at her organic food store. 

The aim of the film is to make the viewer sympathise with someone who is completely detestable and it achieves this through sheer brute force. Aladeen is effectively a spoiled toddler given control of a country. He holds his own Olympic games where he wins every medal by shooting anyone who dares to out run him and he orders scientists to be killed because the missiles they make aren't pointy enough. But once you become acclimatised to his exploits you come to care for him as you would any other flawed protagonist. 

The laughs come steadily and there is a good mix of close to the bone un-PC jokes and gross out humour. It's not a movie for those who are sensitive or easily offended either by middle-eastern politics or the sight of genitals. Baron Cohen's trademark sharp satirical sense is also present, especially in *SPOLIER ALERT* a climactic speech when Aladeen describes the benefits of living in a dictatorship which are all too familiar, such as having all the media controlled by one family. 

Although it works as a straightforward story, it lacks the thrill of seeing interactions with actual people. So rather than linking together a series of improvised scenes with a loose plot as in Borat, you get some fairly functional scenes, performed by actors heading, towards a predictable outcome. 

In the end, although it isn't quite a worthy successor, The Dictator is just funny enough to rule on its own. 


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Categories: dictators | Film

N-Dubz for president in Egypt?

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Thursday, February 3 2011

Preaching about the wrongs of the world can often make a rock star look like a bit of a tool.

Morrissey is viewed as a whining idiot by many, Bob Geldof for all his wonderful charity work comes across as a right moany (insert expletive) and as much as I love his band, U2's Bono has not done himself any favours by jumping on his soapbox over the years.

Yet in some cases it can be noble. When Wyclef Jean ran for the presidency of earthquake ravaged Haiti last year, it came across as a genuine bid to help his homeland in its hour of need.

So make what you will of these comments made to me yesterday by Richard "Fazer" Rawson of Camden hip hop group N-Dubz, pictured left, about the anti-government protestors in Egypt who want the president of 30 years Hosni Mubarak to step down immediately.

"To be honest with you I think the last time I watched TV was a month and a half ago man but I heard something about riots and people getting killed.

"People have got to see we are on the brink of a revolution.

"Look at what David Cameron did with cutting money to universities and the riots that happened in London. Things are about to change.

"People are not going to stand for it man. We are in a different society. Things could get dangerous."

The musings of a philosopher on modern society or the rantings of an out-of-touch pop star who doesn't know any better? For once, I am not making any judgements.

For anyone interested, N-Dubz are playing Margate's Winter Gardens on Monday, April 11 and London's O2 Arena on Saturday, April 30. Tickets on 0844 811 0051.

The full interview with Fazer will be in What's On in April.


Talk about striking while the iron is hot! No sooner had the news broke that Jessie J's new single Price Tag had hit No1 on the iTunes chart than she announced she was bringing forward the release date of her debut album Who We Are.

Price Tag was released a little over 48 hours ago but has already raced to the top of the midweek charts. Her debut single Do It Like A Dude is still lodged in the top 10 after peaking at No2, which certainly makes the move understandable.

But the speed and scale is pretty impressive. She is bringing the release date a whole month forward to Monday, February 28. Bringing a release date forward is pretty rare in the music business. The last act to do so were Take That with their latest album Progress but it was only moved a week ahead of schedule.

“Stomp Stomp, I’ve arrived” was Jessie’s battle cry on Do It Like A Dude. Whatever you make of her music, you wouldn't want to bet against the Critics Choice Brit Award and BBC Sound Of 2011 Poll winner sticking around for a long time to come.

Categories: Celebrities | democracy | dictators | election | Entertainment | Equal Rights | Government | Politics | Showbiz

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