May 16, 2012 by Vinnie Leduc
Once you realize in the beginning of the movie that The Dictator is going to be an over-the-top comedy, you’ll be able to enjoy it more. But let me warn you now: despite the long list of similarities (including the trademark stunt marketing), Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest offensive (to put it very lightly) character trails Borat in nearly every, if not all, aspects of entertainment. If Borat is the Gaddafi or Bin Laden of Baron Cohen’s work, then The Dictator is like Kim Jong-un, not really proven.
Co-written by and starring Sacha Baron Cohen, The Dictator chronicles a visit to the United States by Admiral General Aladeen, ruthless despot of the fictional North African Republic of Wadiya. Sounds kinda like Borat, right? The Dictator is something like Borat Lite… or like the reporter from Kazakhstan’s overshadowed half-cousin. It’s nowhere near as excellent as Borat, but you still get sexism, bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, and even some rape jokes and a pinch of tongue-in-cheek political commentary.
Director Larry Charles, who previously collaborated with Baron Cohen in the mockumentaries Borat and Brüno, ditches the faux doc style for a more conventional presentation. Although this move unfortunately denies The Dictator of coming close to reaching the comedic heights of Borat, the film still manages to deliver solid laughs for the most part.
Along the way, Anna Faris and Ben Kingsley don’t do much beyond picking up their paychecks, and there are a couple of funny cameos as well. I’m a bit disappointed here because Faris has the ability to steal scenes and typically does so in her comedies. Instead, Jason Mantzoukas and Bobby Lee are the supporting actors who come up strongest, but unfortunately the latter’s role is pretty limited.
Also limited, compared to prior Baron Cohen movies, was the frontal male nudity (Praise be to Allah!). After the traumatic cock-fest that was Brüno, I’m happy to report that there’s only a split-second or so of dick in The Dictator. Almost got through the entire movie without a big-screen penis slap… almost.
Embrace the ridiculousness, take in the hilarious soundtrack, and you should like The Dictator overall as I did. One of our honorable mentions for Most Anticipated Movie of the year, The Dictator demands a viewing, and although it may stumble to an anticlimactic, rushed conclusion to an already very short flick, make sure you stay during the credits to catch the extra scenes. The Dictator gets 3 out of 5 stars or B- or Good.