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Review: The Dictator

Surprisingly sweet
By PETER KEOUGH  |  May 16, 2012
3.0 3.0 Stars

Though his PR campaign might suggest otherwise, Sacha Baron Cohen has actually made (with director Larry Charles) a sweet movie, not unlike Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, if less sentimental. Funnier, though. Like Chaplin's film, this one features a ludicrous despot, in this case General Admiral Aladeen (Cohen), leader of an oil-rich backwater. He's threatening to make nukes, but his right-hand man (Ben Kingsley) has replaced him in a coup with a doltish double (also Cohen), and before you can say Coming to America, Aladeen is stranded in his briefs in the middle of Manhattan. In a meet-cute scene, he bumps, incognito, into Zoey (Anna Faris) at a demonstration against his own appearance at the UN. Despite her androgyny ("lesbian hobbit" is one endearment), hairy armpits, limp lefty politics, and the vegan market she manages, sparks fly. All this plus the usual (ironic) racist, misogynist, scatological comedy, and a homily Chaplin might have appreciated.

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