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, or an aborted TV show concept from the late 80s called "The Dictator" starring Christopher Lloyd.

The Dictator provides the following tropes:

  • 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.
  • Adam Westing: Megan Fox as a celebrity who prostitutes herself to powerful world leaders.
  • 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.
    • The Western world condemns and wants to execute Osama bin Laden for the Arson and Murder, Aladeen hates bin Laden for overstaying at his guesthouse and ruining his bathroom.
  • 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-Semitic.
  • 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.
  • Body Double: Aladeen has one, just like another Middle Eastern tyrant.
  • Boobs of Steel: The "virgin guard" with the enormous breasts, Etra (played by Busty Heart), is also the most physically aggressive of all the guards, and the only one depicted engaging in violence...using her comically large breasts as weapons (in a scene from the unrated extended addition).
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Aladeen, who proves later in the movie that he CAN be a competent(although brutal and ruthless) leader if necessary.
  • 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. Again.
    • 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.
  • 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 because none of them wanted the hassle of actually running it. First the Italians claimed it, but they then they traded it to the Swiss for a truckload of cheese, who then outright bribed Imperial Germany to take it off their hands. The Germans then had to trick the people of Wadiya into declaring independence to be rid of it.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Zoey teaches Aladeen how to do this, much to his joy.
  • 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. 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!"
    Ah, America, the birthplace of AIDS!
  • 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
  • Familiar Soundtrack, Foreign Lyrics: After being shaved of his beard and abandoned by his cronies, Aladeen wanders New York to an Arabic-language cover of MC Rai's 'Everybody Hurts.'
  • Funny Foreigner: Cohen's preferred shtick, it would seem.
  • 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.
  • Glorious Leader: The official Wadiyan website goes on and on in praise of Aladeen.
  • 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.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Aladeen ordered many people to be executed for very selfish, pathetic reasons (i.e. accidentally (and only for a few seconds) blocking his path on a staircase) but he does nothing against Osama bin Laden for squatting at his guesthouse other than complain about it.
  • Jerkass: Zigzagged. Aladeen eventually becomes the Jerk with a Heart of Gold due to being somewhat humbled by his experience, but not by much. He thinks he has become this, at least. Nadal knows better.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: A Running Gag. Aladeen keeps comparing Zoey to a boy.
  • Liar Revealed: Aladeen willingly reveals his true identity after pretending to be an activist.
  • 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, although speaking Arabic (actually Hebrew), the only immediately recognizeable words being "bin Laden", "911", "911 2012" and a number of landmarks as well as Aladeen showing off his vest and counting down from 5 don't really help his case.
  • 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.
  • Oh, Crap!: Aladeen when he ends up in the "death to Aladeen" restaurant in New York, and realizes that everyone he had executed is alive and in the restaurant with him.
  • 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 El Salvadorian woman whose hands have been replaced with hooked prosthetics do inventory in a store with easily damaged and perishable merchandise, 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.
  • Released to Elsewhere: Inverted; while Aladeen thinks he's had hundreds of people executed for the most trivial reasons, the royal executioner is part of La Résistance and has actually been smuggling the condemned to America, where they've been living quite happily.
  • Riches to Rags: After Aladeen is shorn of his identity and his beard, he's forced to live as an anonymous refugee.
  • 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" and "negative", and "open" and "closed", causing a lot of confusion.
      Physician: Do you want the Aladeen news or the Aladeen news?
      Man: The... uh, Aladeen news.
      Physician: You are HIV... Aladeen.
      Man switches through happy and concerned facial expressions multiple times.
    • Crosses over with Unusual Euphemism with regard to why Katy Perry got a diamond watch, unlike Megan Fox.
  • Straw Feminist: Zoey is a wacky feminist who has a vegan shop, and is often portrayed as the complete other side of the spectrum to Aladeen.
  • The Starscream: The Treacherous Advisor who tries to kill Aladeen.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    Aladeen: Enriching weapons-grade uranium to be used for peaceful purposes, It will be used only for medical research and clean energy. It will, it will. And will certainly never be used to attack ls... Oh, boy.
  • Take That!: A BIG one at the US, when Aladeen states everything that a tyrant state does, the US has been doing, leading, to Aladeen to say this at the end.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: After Osama bin Laden's double got shot by SEAL Team Six, the real Osama moved into Aladeen's guesthouse and ruined his bathroom. Aladeen complains he won't leave.
  • 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, seemingly a loyal advisor, but secretly planning to subvert Aladeen's authority and sell off the country's oil to foreign corporations.