We’re used to Sacha Baron Cohen pushing the envelope when it comes to embodying outrageous, offensive characters like the ignorant Borat and the very, very gay Bruno. But with his new film, The Dictator, he may not be the most twisted mind on the production team: The movie is based on Zabibah and the King, a romance novel allegedly written by Saddam Hussein. So what you see is Cohen channeling Hussein in a love story about world war.
Although the book was published anonymously, many believe that Hussein hired a team of ghostwriters to articulate the burning love story in his heart. I kid — it’s probably less passionate than that, since the book is meant to be a political allegory. You’ve got an Iraqi king (Hussein) who falls in love with Zabibah (representing the country of Iraq) being abused by her husband (the United States of America).
The movie is slightly different: Cohen’s dictator flies to New York City when a goatherder steals his identity. So, it’s partly The Prince and the Pauper — and there’s an actual woman, though she hasn’t been cast yet. (Kristen Wiig and Anna Faris have both read for the role.)
One thing’s nagging at me, though: Why didn’t they go for the obvious dick joke in the title?