The Dictator

The Dictator

The heroic story of a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed. 3.5 out of 5 based on 15 reviews
The Dictator

Omniscore:

Certificate 15
Genre Comedy
Director Larry Charles
Cast Megan Fox, Anna Faris, John C. Reilly, Ben Kingsley Sasha Baron Cohen
Studio Paramount Pictures
Release Date May 2012
Running Time 83 mins
 

The heroic story of a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.

Reviews

The Daily Mail

Chris Tookey

One critic has already scoffed at the idea that this movie is comparable to Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. Actually, it’s a lot more sophisticated. Chaplin’s film was a highly understandable, deeply felt cry of rage against fascism by a Jewish film-maker, but thoroughly one-dimensional. Partly because of his Jewish background, Baron Cohen is also interested in totalitarian dictatorship, but he’s on a much higher level of political thought. The Dictator is steeped, whether consciously or not, in the liberal ideals of Isaiah Berlin — and if you think that’s fanciful, be aware that Baron Cohen did study history at Cambridge University.

18/05/2012

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The Independent on Sunday

Nicholas Barber

The brilliance of The Dictator is that while it eventually fits into a conventional, romantic outline, it remains every bit as revolting, obscene, and taboo-trampling all the way through.

20/05/2012

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The Spectator

Deborah Ross

Unlike Borat and Brüno, The Dictator does not, sadly, depend on Baron Cohen ambushing real people, as it is, instead, a narrative fiction; it has a story and sticks to it. Therefore, the stakes feel a lot lower, probably because they are, and the tension between prankster and pranked is absent. This is a shame as it’s this tension which produces such wondrously embarrassing yet telling results ... Whereas this film? I think I can feel it disappearing from my mind even as I am trying to remember it. It’s not bad, but neither is it satirical, courageous or daring. It exploits an audience’s prejudices rather than challenges them. It’s Baron Cohen going at 50mph rather than 100mph, but as he is better at half-speed than most other comedians are at their full-speed, this is not going to come between us either.

19/05/2012

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Time Out

Ben Walters

Most regrettable is the loss of the candid-camera interactions with real-life stooges that allowed ‘Borat’ and especially ‘Brüno’ to take a genuinely sharp satirical edge to American culture; nor is there any substantial engagement with the mechanics of actual oppression. As some lame shtick with Aladeen’s imbecilic double makes clear, ‘The Great Dictator’ this ain’t – although one wittily subversive speech towards the end is pleasingly barbed.

09/05/2012

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The Sunday Times

Cosmos Landesman

With The Dictator, Sacha Baron Cohen makes a radical break with the comedic style of his past films. Gone is the con-man comedian, fooling celebrities and the public with fictional characters. Gone, too, is the mockumentary style that he and his director on Borat, Bruno and now this film, Larry Charles, made their own. The Dictator is the kind of conventional feature that Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock or even Mike Myers could have made.

20/05/2012

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The Los Angeles Times

Betsy Sharkey

Satirizing the political side of things — from all sides — has long been the sweet spot of Baron Cohen's comedy. In his previous films, particularly "Borat," the comic was able to expose and exploit human nature using his unstaged encounters with various upright citizens. Adding actors and a script to the equation changes the dynamic — the performances in "The Dictator" are more polished, but some of the serendipity and surprise is lost in the process.

16/05/2012

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The Evening Standard

David Sexton

So the answer to that qualm about whether or not Sacha Baron Cohen can be as funny without the pranks involving real people is clear. He can even be funnier, because the fictional world of this movie actually lets you relax into the jokes more, not worrying about whether or not it can be sustained ... On one level, this film is as industriously offensive all round as anything Baron Cohen has done, with plenty of casual racism – “hey, sub-Saharan!” calls Aladeen to a black man – and a classic misapprehension of what the purpose of a Rape Centre might be. But it critically softens Aladeen’s vileness when it turns out that he has not killed as many as he thinks – for, to enjoy the movie, we do need to find him endearingly stupid as well as murderous and repellent.

11/05/2012

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The Guardian

Peter Bradshaw

Basically this is a firework-display of bad taste, and I was often reminded of the cheerfully reprehensible Kentucky Fried Movie in the 70s, a film unashamedly low in nutritional value. But it was very funny, and so is this.

17/05/2012

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The Observer

Philip French

The film's most successful shot at true satire is the precise equivalent of Chaplin's deadly serious "Look up, Hannah" speech in The Great Dictator. In Baron Cohen's film, Aladeen makes a double-edged speech to a gathering of politicians and diplomats urging America to abandon democracy, listing a succession of things they would thus avoid, all of them familiar American shortcomings and inequities. This got by far the biggest laugh of the evening from the audience I saw it with, and I laughed along with them.

20/05/2012

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Screen

Tim Grierson

To be fair, Baron Cohen’s characters, despite their coarse surface, tend to be kind-hearted rubes rather than truly evil, but nonetheless this new film lacks the killer instinct for attacking sacred cows or upending political correctness. For all its occasional sexual humour and off-colour jokes, The Dictator is mostly just a cultural-clash comedy without much in the way of political or thematic undercurrents.

11/05/2012

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Total Film

James Mottram

If close-to-the-bone humour is your thing, Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest is just what the dictator ordered.

11/05/2012

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The Independent

Anthony Quinn

The scriptwriters seem to work on the principle that offence is the best form of attack, and to the casual racism and misogyny you can also add jokes about torture, child pornography, rape and murder. "You're wanted for war crimes," someone tells Aladeen. "That stuff never sticks," he replies, and you could say the same for Baron Cohen's comedy. It's just too crude, too off-the-wall tasteless, for anyone to be genuinely offended. The moments I most enjoyed are so daft as to hardly bear describing.

18/05/2012

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Empire Magazine

Damon Wise

With its queasy sex jokes, male nudity and (very young) teen-appeal scatology, it seems really just an attempt to make up for the ground lost with the irritating Brüno, which it certainly does. The shame, though, is that, unlike Brüno even, it doesn't appear to confront anything, conflating Asian stereotypes with Arab until Aladeen's national identity seems to be neither here nor there. Still, when it's funny, it's very funny, and when Cohen's on form, there's still no one around who's so wide-eyed and yet so exquisitely and punishingly wrong.

07/05/2012

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The New York Times

A. O. Scott

There is nothing especially outrageous here. The movie’s blend of self-aware insult humor, self-indulgent grossness, celebrity cameos and strenuous whimsy represents a fairly standard recipe for sketch-comedy-derived feature films. Mr. Baron Cohen, a nimble performer, long of face and limb, is like a cross between a camel and a chameleon. He seems capable of an almost infinite range of voices and appearances, all of them outlandish, and all of them at least potentially funny. That potential is mostly squandered in The Dictator, which gestures halfheartedly toward topicality and, with equal lack of conviction, toward pure, anarchic silliness.

15/05/2012

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The Financial Times

Antonia Quinn

The Dictator is never surprising – it has nothing unpredictable in it, instead fit feels full of old, old jokes told with a lot of money. So even though the film’s distributor Paramount thinks that it has something explosive and brave on its hands, The Dictator is full of enough poo, pee, willy and sperm jokes to keep your Midwest gun-lover happy for weeks. The humour is aimed directly at the people it hopes to offend. It also contains an unforgivable monologue in which it is revealed – gasp – that it is America that is the true dictatorship.

17/05/2012

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