Release Date
May 16, 2012
Larry Charles
Sacha Baron Cohen
Alec Berg
David Mandel
Jeff Schaffer
Distributed By
Paramount Pictures
$65 million
Rated R strong crude and sexual content, brief male nudity, language and some violent images
83 minutes

The Dictator

Sacha Baron Cohen continues to coin his own brand of comedy, yet why wasn’t I laughing? The Dictator takes a step away from Cohen’s typical shockumentary formula and becomes a fully realized cinematic story with no reality elements to speak of. With that step, Cohen loses me completely, creating a political satire on the state of our world and the oppressive leaders that still exist.

Cohen’s latest film centralizes on his character Admiral General Hafez Aladeen, the leader of Wadiya. After being approached by the United Nations to attend a peace treaty in America, Aladeen is double-crossed by his premier, Tahir (Ben Kingsley). Tamir plans an assassination so that he can get Aladeen’s double to sign a new constitution for Wadiya allowing oil companies to drill there, but Clayton (John C. Reilly), the security guard hired to kill Aladeen is only able to steal his beard. Without it, Aladeen is apparently unrecognizable and befriends a local activist, Zoey (Anna Faris), in attempt to get back to the peace treaty.

Excuse me for not laughing every time Aladeen refers to Osama Bin Laden as his house guest who constantly plugs his toilet. The fact is Sacha Baron Cohen is a grown child. His humor is lost on me because I quit laughing at most of these jokes when I graduated high school. With the best jokes used in the marketing, there is very little to get excited about during the film, as even Aladeen’s political commentaries fall a bit flat.

Love him or hate him, Sacha Baron Cohen does have a handle on an element of comedy that people enjoy (the audience in my screening can testify to that). As far as my enjoyment of his comedy, however, I suppose I expect too much from him. With Borat and Bruno being completely average films, I shouldn’t have expected much more from The Dictator. In failing to get a rise out of me and crippled by its exploiting marketing, The Dictator is often too wild and ridiculous to ever come off completely enjoyable. Sacha Baron Cohen continues a promising career for himself, but delivers yet another film that I remain indifferent to.


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