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Movie Review: The Dictator

May 18, 2012

The Dictator – A Paramount Pictures’ Release

Release Date: May 16th, 2012

Rated 14A for coarse language, sexual content and crude content

Running time: 83 minutes

Larry Charles (dir.)

Sacha Baron Cohen (screenplay)

Alec Berg (screenplay)

David Mandel (screenplay)

Jeff Schaffer (screenplay)

Erran Baron Cohen (music)

Sacha Baron Cohen as Aladeen/Efawadh

Anna Faris as Zoey

Ben Kingsley as Tamir

Jason Mantzoukas as Nadal

Sayed Badreya as Omar

John C. Reily as American Bodyguard

©Paramount Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Admiral General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) rides a camel through New York in The Dictator.

Our reviews below:


The Dictator Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Although The Dictator is sometimes clever and other times ridiculously stupid, a lot of it is hilarious in a way that had me laughing out loud thoroughly in spite of myself.  Although not for the easily offended, those who can handle the totally inappropriate material will find a lot to laugh at alongside Sacha Baron Cohen’s manic performance.

Travelling to New York from the North African Republic of Wadiya, the hilariously oppressive Admiral General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) is set to address the United Nations with his corrupt aide, Tamir (Ben Kingsley).  But when Aladeen loses his trademark beard at the hand of an American guard (John C. Reily), he becomes anonymous amongst the racially diverse residents of the city, even being hired by the new age Zoey (Anna Faris) to work at her vegan and fair trade food store.

Although The Dictator isn’t as revolutionary as the hilarious Borat which shocked audiences in 2006 with its mockumentary stylings, Sacha Baron Cohen is so mocking of anything that could even be remotely considered politically correct, that his offbeat humour often becomes refreshing.  His dual role here as a simple goat herder is just hilarious and the supporting cast is equally game to deliver even the most outrageous humour.  There are enough laughs throughout the brisk 83 minute running time of The Dictator to let us look past the fact that some of the editing between scenes is a little shaky.

This is essentially a political satire that keeps topping itself when it comes to outrageous shock humour, all leading up to a brilliantly written speech about democracy versus dictatorship, which actually rings true.  There’s a lot of embarrassingly funny stuff in The Dictator, and those who laugh at political incorrectness are sure to be entertained.


The Dictator Review by Erin V.  

**1/2 (out of 4)

In The Dictator, Sacha Baron Cohen plays Admiral General Aladeen, proud dictator of the (fictional) Republic of Wadiya.  When the USA is worried about his weapons program, they demand that he appear before the UN to explain himself and hopefully calm tensions.  So, Aladeen travels with his entourage to New York, but due to a mix-up with his double, he finds himself in a ‘prince and the pauper’ type of situation, having to figure out for the first time things on his own and find a way to set things right.

The Dictator is full of racist remarks by its titular character, (which are strangely watchable due to the genuine ignorance they are delivered with), and will definitely not be for the easily offended.  But by the time the film ends, both Aladeen’s character arc and what we can take away from his now much talked about ‘democracy speech,’ is surprisingly intelligent in its own way, in what it says about our own political culture.

If you liked Sacha Baron Cohen’s previous films Borat (and to a different extent Bruno), you will most likely enjoy this one.  If you haven’t seen those films though, just be aware – although you’ve probably already heard – that Baron Cohen’s trademark humour is not for everyone, and certainly not for all age groups.  The Dictator is the kind of film with a sharp-enough script and main actor that you laugh at a lot – but are possibly more than a little embarrassed to have done so.


The Dictator Review by Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

Sacha Baron Cohen stars in yet another hilariously offensive comedy.  He now stars as General Aladeen, the not very bright dictator of Wadiya, a fictional country in the northeast corner of Sudan.  The USA has grown very suspicious of Aladeen, suspecting the fool of creating nuclear weapons.  So when he visits New York to address the United Nations, he is captured and his prize beard shaved off.

Now unrecognizable, he sort of blends in with the New York population and ends up working at a vegan fair trade food store that employs refugees from various countries.  Zoey (Anna Faris), the head of the store, takes care of Aladeen, who is going undercover as Wadiyan refugee “Alison Burgers.”  Trouble is, Zoey’s kindness is starting to rub off on him as the two begin to develop feelings towards each other.  Meanwhile, his wicked older brother (Ben Kingsley) has a plan to take over Wadiya and truly oppress it.  What is Aladeen to do?

The Dictator is as funny and clever as it is rude, offensive and silly.  Sacha Baron Cohen is laugh out loud funny in his political incorrectness.  However, the film really questions how democratic the Western world really is in a brilliant democracy speech delivered by General Aladeen himself.  In a society where people are politically correct on the surface, certain people, namely the differently abled recent immigrants and those of certain races are passive aggressively discriminated against by a get rich government mindset.  Zoey’s fully inclusive health food story, as well as her non-judgemental way of being, is an example of true democracy.

Both intelligent and incredibly stupid, The Dictator is a clever political satire that will be enjoyed by sociologists and political scientists, who can appreciate the backhanded social commentary.  While not for the easily offended, The Dictator is worth seeing if you can handle the humour.


The Dictator Review by Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

To laugh or not to laugh.  That is the politically correct question.  It’s hard not to laugh at Sacha Baron Cohen’s completely offensive yet ridiculously funny political satire, The Dictator.

Admiral General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) is the supreme dictator of the fictional North African republic of Wadiya and his country is producing uranium for nuclear weapons.  But his right hand man (Ben Kingsley) is secretly plotting with a US agent (John C. Reily) to take control from him and open up Wadiya to oil trading.  The fun begins when Aladeen and his entourage head to New York for a meeting with the United Nations.  Aladeen is kidnapped, his beard shaved and ends up in a street demonstration outside the UN.  There he ends up rescued by vegan/organic food co-op owner Zoey (Anna Faris).  The interactions between the pair are both hilarious and sweet.

The strength of The Dictator is the totally politically incorrect humour that fills every moment of the film.  There is no topic, sexual orientation, race or religion that is left untouched.  The equal attention given to each politically incorrect topic actually feels politically correct.  The highlight of the movie is a brilliant speech about democracy given by Aladeen at the United Nations.  The political satire shines here.

The Dictator is not for the easily offended.  Fans of Sacha Baron Cohen and his unique brand of humour will appreciate how stupidly intelligent this movie really is.  Go with an open mind and prepare to be both shocked and amused.


The Dictator Review by Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

The Dictator is Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) of the fictional oil-rich north African nation of Wadiya. Summoned to address the UN about an alleged nuclear weapons program, he is kidnapped in New York by an American bodyguard (John C. Reilly) and replaced by a dumb goatherd double (Also S.B.C.), under the orders of his aide Tamir (Ben Kingsley) who plots to pledge “democracy” for Wadiya while selling out to China and big oil. Escaping incognito without his trademark beard, Aladeen tries to enter the UN but is caught up in a protest demonstration and whisked away by a feminist vegan grocer named Zoey (Anna Faris). While working at her store, Aladeen manages with the help of former Wadiyan acquaintance Nadal (Jason Mantzoukas) to replace the double in time to give the UN his own message.

As expected for S.B.C. films, The Dictator is a brilliant mix of fearlessly crude humour, broad stereotypes and biting satire. Within the silly story, there are lots of memorable bits ranging from gross to cerebral, making its brief 83 minutes a guilty pleasure that should hold up over subsequent (if infrequent) viewings.


Consensus: Although not for the easily offended, there is a lot of hilariously inappropriate stuff to laugh at in The Dictator, including Sacha Baron Cohen’s fully committed performance as the cluelessly oppressive Admiral General Aladeen.  **1/2 (Out of 4)

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