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Film: The Dictator

A 2012 movie starring Sacha Baron Cohen doing what he does best - pretending to be a guy from another country (this time ethnically non-specific) who makes fun of other people's ignorance regarding ethnic stereotypes.

In this film Sacha plays Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen of the Republic of Wadiya, a fictional country in North Africa. Aladeen is pretty much the worst head of state this side of Pol Pot (in a funny way of course) but to him it's just everyday life. However when he's invited to give a speech at the United Nations in New York, his Treacherous Advisor Tamir (Ben Kingsley) arranges to have him kidnapped and murdered. Though Aladeen escapes, his captor shaved off his iconic beard, making him unrecognizable.

Now penniless and without status, Aladeen finds himself picked up by Zoey (Anna Faris), a kindly grocery store manager who offers him a job. Hilarity Ensues as Aladeen tries to find a way back to his throne, prevent a 'democratic' constitution being signed by a body double (part of Tamir's plans to sell Wadiya's oil to the highest bidder), and build weapons of mass destruction, all at once.

Not to be confused with the Charlie Chaplin film The Great Dictator.


The Dictator provides the following tropes:

  • Adam Westing: Megan Fox as a celebrity who prostitutes herself to powerful world leaders.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Zoey teaches Aladeen how to do this, much to his joy.
  • Affably Evil: Guess who?
  • Anything That Moves: Aladeen is shown to be with several women and Arnold Schwarzenegger. And it's later stated that 14 year old boys are his weakness.
  • Arab Oil Sheikh: Aladeen, although not an Arab (or so he claims) and not actual sheikh, is really ostentatious in his displays of wealth and has the requisite Middle Eastern flavour. Wadiya is also said to have 'Unlimited oil wealth'.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Nadal's pep talk to Aladeen:
    Nadal: You are the last great dictator! All of the others are gone! Qaddafi, Saddam, Kim Jong, Cheney.
  • Artistic License - Medicine: The birth scene. Soooo much wrong there.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: When Aladeen and Nadal take their helicopter ride, they're speaking Hebrew, not "Wadiyan". Possibly a Stealth Pun, since Aladeen is virulently anti-Semetic.
  • Asshole Victim: The racist xenophobe who kidnaps, and tries (and fails) to torture and murder Shabazz and gets burned to best.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Aladeen defeats his uncle for betraying him, but the ending falls under this trope on account of Aladeen being a Villain Protagonist who never undergoes a complete Heel-Face Turn, and instead continues oppressing his country afterwards. It's notable that his main opponent was also evil though, as he was simply trying to sell the country to the highest bidders for its oil resources. The real sufferers in this case are the Wadiyan people.
  • Babies Ever After: Zoey is revealed to be pregnant during the credits. Subverted in that Aladeen makes it clear he will kill the child if it turns out to be a girl.
  • Bald of Evil: Tamir.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Aladeen's body double is more, err, comfortable with goats than women...
  • Big Applesauce: Justified, as Aladeen has a perfect reason to go to New York (giving a speech in the UN).
  • Black Comedy
    • Black Comedy Rape: Strongly implied several times that Aladeen has participated in this before.
  • Blatant Lies: Shabazz's propoganda about himself is full of this. For example, read his biography.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Shabazz's guards.
  • Body Double
  • Boobs of Steel: The "virgin guard" with the enormous Gag Boobs, Etra, is also the most physically aggressive of all the guards, and the only one depicted engaging in violence...using said gag boobs as weapons (in a scene from the unrated extended addition).
  • The Cameo: Lots.
    • Megan Fox sleeps with Aladeen in the beginning.
    • John C. Reilly has a two-scene role.
    • Garry Shandling as the health inspector.
    • Fred Armisen as the restaurant owner.
    • Chris Elliott as hotel security.
    • Aasif Mandvi as the Wadiyan doctor
    • In a huge Brick Joke payoff, Edward Norton is heavily implied to have committed homosexual acts for money.
  • Character Blog: The Republic of Wadiya site.
  • Character Filibuster: Aladeen's final speech about America totally not resembling a dictatorship.
  • Comedic Sociopathy
  • The Comically Serious: Tamir. While everyone else is hamming it up, Ben Kingsley maintains a dignified facade throughout all the silly events happening around him.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The oil magnates ready to pounce upon Waidyan oil.
  • Crapsack World: Wadiya is so worthless, that the European colonial powers all played hot potato with one another for the ownership of the country, since no one wanted it. First the Italians claimed it, but they then they sold it to the Swiss for a truckload of cheese, who then paid Germany to take it. Germany then had to convince the people of Wadiya that they wanted independence.
  • Death by Racism:
    • Played straight by the aforementioned racist assassin who tries to kill Aladeen.
    • Averted by Aladeen himself, who spends the greater part of the movie making various racist and politically incorrect remarks, but never really gets punished for it.
  • The Ditz: Aladeen and Zoey both come across as pretty flaky but they are far more on the ball than Aladeen's moronic double.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Aladeen pleasures Zoey by tonguing her hairy armpit
  • Eagleland: Aladeen makes no secret out of his disdain for the USA.
    Ah, America, the birthplace of AIDS!
    • Funnily enough, that line was limited to the trailer. In the actual movie he says "Ah, America! Built by the blacks, owned by the Chinese!"
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Aladeen now knows why everyone hates Bin Laden.
    • Played With: It's because Bin Laden won't leave Aladeen's guest house. And keeps messing up his bathroom.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Even Aladeen is amazed at how stupid his body double is.
  • Evil Versus Evil: A ruthless egomaniac dictator versus a corrupt Treacherous Advisor who wants to sell off his country to oil tycoons. Whichever of them won, the people of Wadiya would still suffer.
  • Expy: Aladeen is one to (former) real world dictator Kim Jong-il of North Korea- sorry, The Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The film is even dedicated to Kim's memory! He also appears to be one for (again former) real world dictator Muammar Gaddafi of The Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, now just Libya.
  • Fake American: In-universe. Aladeen does an expectedly horrible job of impersonating an American tourist.
  • Faking the Dead: The "Osama bin Laden" killed by Seal Team 6 was actually a Body Double. The real Osama is mooching off Aladeen and messing up his bathroom
  • Funny Foreigner
  • Gag Boobs: Aladeen's guard Etra. She smashes a stack of bricks with them, and in a scene from the extended unrated edition, attacks Aladeen himself with them.
  • The Generalissimo: Aladeen embodies the exaggerated version of this.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    Megan Fox: You gave Katy Perry a diamond watch!
    Aladeen: Yes, but she let me aladeen on her face.
  • Glorious Leader
  • Granola Girl: Zoey, who manages a completely democratic health food store which is hyper eco friendly and takes in political refugees as workers.
  • Hairy Girl: Playing alongside the Granola Girl image, Zoey is also seen sporting armpit hair for the length of the movie. She and Aladeen even manage a particularly funny fake out during their "sex scene" swapping oral sex for him instead licking her furry armpits.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Zigzagged towards the end, with Aladeen going back and forth between deciding to introduce democracy and remaining as a dictatorship. Ultimately subverted as Aladeen decides to introduce "real democracy" to his country, but they just turn out to be show elections.
  • Hidden Depths: For all of Aladeen's many, many faults, he's actually an incredibly efficient manager. This is evidenced when he forcibly takes control of Zoey's store. After a couple of days, he's got the right employees doing the right job, has the store looking nice and generally running smoothly. Albeit by employing some questionable methods, including kidnapping and extortion!
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Zoey. So friggin much.
  • It's All About Me
  • Jerkass
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: A Running Gag. Aladeen keeps comparing Zoey to a boy.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to Borat and Brüno. While those two films were R-rated (and very hard R's, at that), this one seems to play it on the safe side and with a few trims could have easily been a PG-13 (which was the studio's original plan).
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Aladeen seems almost incapable of coming up with an alias any other way. It works the first time with "Allison Burgers," but it leads to obviously fake names like "Ladis Washerum" and "Emploice Muswashans" that don't fool anybody.
  • Love Redeems: Aladeen's feelings for Zoey help him become a (slightly) better person.
  • MadScientist: Nadal agrees to help Aladeen regain power so he can continue working on nuclear weapons, instead of his lame job in America.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Aladeen's robe flies up as he tries to swing between two buildings, before thwacking right into a window.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Shabazz seized power from his father after murdering him in a "hunting accident". Though he apparently did a really shitty job of making it look like an accident.
    Biography: When Aladeen was just a child, his father Omar died in a tragic hunting accident when he was hit by 97 stray bullets and a stray grenade. Shortly afterwards, Omar's Chief Advisor suggested that Aladeen should be officially declared the successor. The supremely-humble Aladeen responded by accepting the position.
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: This happens to Aladeen and Nadal when they are on the helicopter. The American tourists think that Aladeen is in league with Bin Laden; in reality, he's just letting Bin Laden crash at his guest house.
  • N-Word Privileges: Invoked and parodied, much like in Borat.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers got a lot of mileage out of this exchange between Megan Fox and Aladeen (which never made the final film):
    Megan: What's this, a ruby? Is that a joke? What do I look like, a Kardashian?
    Aladeen: No, of course not, you are much less hairy.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Discussed between Aladeen and Nadal. Aladeen is proven wrong, however.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The Republic of Wadiya does not have an overly long name, but it deserves a mention for just now blatantly undemocratic it is. From the official site:
    Aladeen righteously declared his father Eternal President of the Republic and called for free elections to determine who would serve as Vice-President under his dead father. Aladeen won with only 99.999% of the vote. After an exhaustive government investigation, it was discovered that the one dissenting vote came from Aladeen himself, who deliberately misspelled his own name as an ingenious test of the system.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Zoey. While she's a Benevolent Boss she's allowed such blunders as letting an African refugee from a tribe with no concept of money man the registers, a Peruvian woman whose hands have been replaced with hooked prosthetics do inventory, and is oblivious about one of her employees skimming from the till. Worst of all is probably hiring Aladeen, though it turns out his totalitarian "Supreme Grocer" managing style worked wonders.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Aladeen. Goes without saying, since it is a Sacha Baron Cohen film.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Aladeen's ideas on how bombs work comes from watching Daffy Duck cartoons.
  • Qurac
  • Refuge in Audacity
  • Riches to Rags
  • Self-Made Orphan: Aladeen almost certainly killed off his dad in addition to all of his brothers.
  • Smurfing: Aladeen has ordered that a great number of words in the Wadyian language be replaced with "Aladeen". Including contradictory terms like "positive/negative" which causes a lot of confusion.
    Physician: I have got news. Do you want the Aladeen news or the Aladeen news first?
    Man: Um.... the Aladeen news.
    Physician: The test came back. You are HIV Aladeen.
    Man switches through happy and sad facial expressions multiple times.
    • Crosses over with Unusual Euphemism with regard to why Katy Perry got a diamond watch, unlike Megan Fox.
  • Take That: A BIG one at the US, when Aladeen states everything that a tyrant state does, which at the same time is what the US has been doing, leading, to Aladeen to say this at the end.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Aladeen.
  • Torture Technician: Aladeen's kidnapper tries to be this, but Aladeen, himself a Torture Technician, mocks and degrades his apparently outdated tool set, ruining the fun for his captor.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Aladeen's uncle Tamir.
  • Villain Protagonist: Aladeen.
  • Women Are Wiser: Subverted with Zoey, who's a terrible manager and a Horrible Judge of Character.
  • X Meets Y: The film is basically Coming to America meets Ali G Indahouse meets You Don't Mess with the Zohan.
  • You Have Failed Me: Aladeen is known for having people executed for extremely petty reasons. Subverted in that the executioner is part of La Résistance, so everyone he has sentenced to death escaped and formed a resistance movement against him in New York.
  • 0% Approval Rating: Aladeen, among other world leaders and countries. His approval in Wadiya may not be 50%, but based on the crowd scenes, it's certainly not zero.
The Devil's CarnivalFilms of the 2010sThe Divide

alternative title(s): The Dictator
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