The easily offended and squeamish may want to just cover their ears, close their eyes and keep on walking. The Dictator is not for you.
For those of us who found some enjoyment and humor in either Sacha Baron Borat Bruno Cohen’s previous works, or in the crass, socially-
aware style of South Park, The Dictator is worthy of your time and inevitable disgust.
And yes, you will be disgusted. Despite its tame and goofy trailer that emphasizes the ridiculous romantic subplot, this film is graphic, mean-
spirited and often hilarious.
Hardly a minute goes by where a social group or ethnicity is not slurred. And Baron Cohen and company certainly aren’t above some good,
old-fashioned toilet humor.
Unlike his previous films, The Dictator is entirely scripted and it feels a bit more legitimate as entertainment than some of his previous work.
At its best, The Dictator is extremely funny because of Baron Cohen’s performance as unabashed despot Admiral General Aladeen of the
Republic of Wadiya.
His comic delivery is nearly impeccable; and like with Borat, the voice is funny on its own. I guess you could say he’s the Bizarro Adam
The writing is also quite good. The opening introduces us to Aladeen via a news bio and it is absolutely hilarious.
The scene where a man is told the results of his HIV test after Aladeen has changed the words for both positive and negative to ‘Aladeen’ is
Some of the film’s wittiest moments manage to combine the irreverent and the crude with socio-political commentary a la South Park.
The first slide of the film proclaims it to be dedicated to the memory of Kim Jong-Il.
Eagle-eyed viewers will even spot a thank you to South Park Co-creator Matt Stone in the credits.
But while The Dictator manages to spread its laughs over the course of its brisk 83-minute runtime, it proves to be a somewhat uneven film.
It resorts to pure shock value a bit too often for my taste and some of it is just a bit over the top.
Gross-out humor is good in small doses, but two-thirds of the way through the film it temporarily flies off the rails.
It’s ‘highlighted’ by a scene where Aladeen must deliver a child. The sequence is utterly bizarre and unnecessary; especially as it’s used to
solidify the misguided love story.
The romance between Aladeen and Anna Faris’ liberal activist is perhaps one of the most baffling couplings in film history. Not to take
anything away from Faris, however. She gives a decent performance. It’s just a very standard love story lacking the edge of the rest of the
Ben Kingsley is also here as Aladeen’s conniving uncle; but it’s Jason Mantzoukas who gets the best supporting material as Wadiya’s
former nuclear weapons chief, Nadal.
Aside from the hilarious introduction to Aladeen, the most memorable sequences involve Aladeen and Nadal in buddy flick tandem.
They bicker about the correct shape of rockets (Aladeen’s notions appear to be based on the Looney Tunes), crash a funeral (To find a
beard worthy of Castro or Gandalf) and have a very ironic discussion about the Porsche 911 while taking a helicopter tour over New York
And as much as I don’t want to criticize the movie for being too offensive, it goes into some territories that really portray Aladeen as a
horrible person. There are references to child molestation that probably should have been omitted. This is somewhat problematic as the
screenplay also tries to portray Aladeen as a somewhat sympathetic character.
But it’s just too funny and daring to really hold against the film.
Baron Cohen is fantastic, the screenplay gives him more than enough to work with and it’s all well-directed by veteran Larry Charles.
It’s not without its flaws, but The Dictator is certainly Aladeen enough to see.
* * *
(out of four)
Directed by: Larry Charles
Written by: Sacha Baron Cohen & Alec Berg & David
Mandel & Jeff Schaffer
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Jason
Mantzoukas, Ben Kingsley
Music by: Erran Baron Cohen
Cinematography by: Lawrence Sher
Released: May 16, 2012; 83 Minutes