May 132012


He was a Kazakh TV host, a Flamboyant Austrian fashionista, and now he is The Dictator. Check out our thoughts on the latest Sacha Baron Cohen “comedy” after the jump!

Comedian/actor Baron Cohen is back as General Haffaz Alladeen, the almighty leader and dictator of the oil-rich African nation of Waadeya. When Alladeen declares Waadeya has the materials needed to make nuclear weapons, he is summoned to New York by a very concerned United Nations. Not long after his arrival in New York he is kidnapped and de-bearded. Without his beard he is unrecognisable and he is forced out on the streets on New York without money or any real understanding of the people and the culture.

It turns out that people within Alladeen’s inner circle weren’t so happy with the dictatorship, and it them who had Alladeen kidnapped so they could replace him with a dim-witted lookalike who they planned to get to stand in Alladeen’s place to sign documents which decreed that Waadeya would become a democratic nation and hold fair elections. Alladeen must somehow convince regular Americans (who he hates) to help him so that he can take the double out before the documents are signed.


The problem with this film is that it’s simply not funny. The humour is very much the same as the type seen in Borat and Bruno – “fish out of water”, culture-clashes, and all-round general filth and crudeness. What is lacking in The Dictator that was present in at least Borat is any sort of social commentary. In Borat the humour is used to poke fun at, and bring attention to issues which were relevant at the time – the type of issues that people are often afraid to make light of in any way. In The Dictator there was an opportunity for this – it’s been a tumultuous 12 months for politics around the world, and more than 1 dictatorship has fallen. However, instead of some witty and clever relevant humour, The Dictator decides that jokes about child rape, slavery, and 9/11 is the way to go.


The one thing you can say about the offensive nature of this film is that it doesn’t discriminate – at some point in this film you will find at least one thing that truly offends you. There is nothing wrong with a little crude or offensive satire – when used right it can really make a comedy something special indeed. But when the humour has no substance, when all it is there to do is shock and offend – that’s when it stops being a comedy and starts being nasty.  Without the social commentary or at least attempt at making the humour contextual in some way, The Dictator fails at being even a mediocre comedy – it doesn’t even give it a good shot.

This reviewer did laugh once during the film – it was at a feminist clown joke. In return for that laugh I had to see two people share a “special” moment while elbow deep inside a woman giving birth + an additional 82 minutes of film…. It really wasn’t worth it for that single laugh.


The Facts

Director: Larry Charles
Writer(s): Sacha Baron Cohen, Alec Berg, David Mandel, Jeff Schaffer
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kinglsey, Anna Faris, John C. Reilly
Runtime: 83 minutes
Release date(s): Australia, New Zealand, USA: May 16th 2012