The Dictator – Review

The Dictator – Review

Review by FilmFellaHenry – 7/10

Sacha Baron Cohen is back with another crazy character, this time in the form of Aladeen, a maniacal dictator fusion of Saddam, Bin Laden and Gaddafi. Having acquired nuclear capabilities, Aladeen sets out for the UN summit, to reassure the nervous international community that his intentions are as nefarious as they suspect. But when he falls foul of jealous advisor Tamir’s (Ben Kingsley) plan to replace him with a body double, Aladeen is forced to mix with the rabble of New York, thus beginning of journey of self discovery.

SBC’s rise to stardom is an interesting one. Starting with his Ali G skits on The 11 O’Clock Show, Cohen proved that acting an idiot can often beguile unwitting participants into revealing their own idiocy, with hilarious results. Once a growing fame rendered Ali G unworkable, a clever re-invention as Borat repeated the formula, which was later seen again in Bruno. The key success factor of all these characters was the ability to merge fiction with real life encounters, providing comedy not only from the protagonist, but also his unwitting victims.

Of course, Cohen has now become something of a household name and much like Paul Kaye’s Dennis Pennis, notoriety has rendered his lampooning power virtually redundant. Harking back to the fictional formula used in Ali G Indahouse, The Dictator relies purely on scripted jokes, which are of a particularly low brow nature (a key romance moment occurs with Aladeen and his beau elbow deep in a pregnant woman’s cooch).

A sign of Cohen’s failing comedic grasp? Well, some may criticise SBC as targeting the lowest common denominator, but personally I found it pretty damn funny. Sure, I missed the celebrity / idiot-public mockery Cohen does so well, but there are enough regular, effective jokes to make The Dictator enjoyable from start to finish. As with Ali G Indahouse, you have to look past the paper thin narrative and unbelievable characters and allow yourself to engage with his absurd world. And quite frankly, if you’re not a fan of base comedy you really shouldn’t be watching an SBC movie.

A solid comedy that has more jokes than most and better still, they usually hit right on the money. With his forays into more serious acting roles (Station Inspector in Hugo and Thenardier in the upcoming Les Miserables) and releases such as The Dictator, Sacha Baron Cohen has ensured a showbiz career that will endure well into the future. And that makes me happy.


About filmfellahenry
Film reviewer, script writer and occasional painter. Fan of Lumet, Aronofsky and Kubrick, with a good measure of early John Carpenter thrown in. Particularly like post-apocalyptic sci-fi, horror and fantasy film genres.

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