The Dictator

Film

Comedy

Sacha Baron Cohen, center, in The Dictator

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Fri May 11 2012

It’s a safe bet that ‘The Dictator’ will be 2012’s only feature presented ‘in loving memory of Kim Jong Il’. This latest outrage from Sacha Baron Cohen and director Larry Charles continues the template set down in ‘Borat’ and ‘Brüno’, offering the spectacle of an outlandishly foreign, preposterously unreconstructed ego monster set loose on American soil. Despite its timeliness – North African despots are so hot right now – ‘The Dictator’ has far less satirical bite than its predecessors and is flimsier as filmmaking. But it’s funny as hell.

Admiral General Aladeen (Baron Cohen), ‘beloved oppressor’ since childhood of fictional rogue state Wadiya, enjoys a trigger-happy life of inane luxury and whimsical terror. A run-in with weapons inspectors necessitates a visit to the UN in New York, where things swiftly go from ‘Crocodile Dundee’ to ‘After Hours’: Aladeen finds himself adrift in Brooklyn, avoiding dissident diners in Little Wadiya and working at a vegan feminist cooperative run by adorably strident Zoey (Anna Faris). There’s also some business with a former underling (Jason Mantzoukas) and a nefarious rival (Ben Kingsley, underused) in the run-up to the signing of a new democratic mandate for Wadiya.

There’s a lightweight quality to ‘The Dictator’ compared to its predecessors. The fact that Aladeen’s delusions of grandeur aren’t quite delusions – he does run a country, after all – makes him less compelling than Ali G, Borat or Brüno, while the film’s other characters and plotting are perfunctory. 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.

Still, if a comedy is meant to make you laugh, mission accomplished. As a series of wonderfully grotesque set-pieces, ‘The Dictator’ delivers, from the Munich massacre à la Wii and a helicopter ride from hell to hipster blowback and genital slapstick. Baron Cohen’s talents as a clown find their the ideal vehicle in this onslaught of sheer tastelessness – a cluster-bomb of comic coups enveloping neo-cons and fem-lit, torture and amniotic fluid, linguistics and architecture, wanking and severed heads. And there is room for one touching moment: when Aladeen sees Zoey haranguing a cop, her finger in his face, her features a mask of indignant self-regard, he realises this might just be the girl for him.

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Release details

UK release:

Fri May 18, 2012

Duration:

83 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Larry Charles

Cast:

Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5
LiveReviews|67
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Herb

Awful awful awful. Loved Borat, loved Bruno but this is just plain sh@t. Really poor. Waste of iTunes money and hard drive space.

CamH

Very, very funny film. If you like belly laughs and do not take yourself too seriously, then this is a cracker. Irreverent and close to the "offensive" line sometimes - but silly and gloriously entertaining.

CamH

Very, very funny film. If you like belly laughs and do not take yourself too seriously, then this is a cracker. Irreverent and close to the "offensive" line sometimes - but silly and gloriously entertaining.

Invoker

Pure entertainment! Really enjoyed it last night! Once again a hilarious film from Sacha. Not recommended for anyone who is sensitive about racism. 5 Stars.

Invoker

Pure entertainment! Really enjoyed it last night! Once again a hilarious film from Sacha. Not recommended for anyone who is sensitive about racism. 5 Stars.

Jools

Utterly unfunny, stilted and painful to watch. Only one person in the whole cinema was laughing...the Time Out reviewer, perhaps? Dire. Another really untrustworthy review from Time Out

Ric

I must be getting old cause the jokes are pathetic & been done before...mainly from his past movies. Funniest bits were in the trailers & THATS IT. Dont be fooled into thinking this is up there with Borat. Poor showing

George Gordon

I am not a fan of Sasha Baron Cohen but this was Very Funny! Avoid if you are a fan of murderous megalomaniac dictators (Muammar Gaddafi for example) prissy or believe that baby girls are worthless. A modern version of Chaplin's "Great Dictator?" Laughter is a great way to cut these deluded Dictatorial ****wits down to size.

critique

Pleasant enough time-passer but nowhere near the class of `Borat`. Two and a half stars.

K.Flyer

Been a while since I laughed out loud in a cinema. As Sebastian said in his post, Some people do not seem to get what SBC was up to with this movie. It was a total comedic P**s take of all the loony dictators of recent times and also a dig at the so called democracy of the western world, summed up in his speech near the end of the movie. Sorry guys but the laughter in the cinema last night from the audience says a lot. 4 Stars

GS

A limp,badly acted, juvenile mess of a film, becoming increasingly annoying as it stutters on. Waste of time.

MikeT

Not a scratch on Borat and Bruno. That’s not to say "The Dictator" isn’t funny in places, but on the whole it kind of limps along from one fairly lame (obvious) joke, to the next. Some of the language is over used, and by the time the film finished few in the audience were chuckling. . Nearly left early, but the air-con that persuaded me to see it to the end. Two stars.

Lisa in Harlow

If you get dragged in to watch this film by your friends don't forget to take your iphone so's you have something to while away the time.

Sebastian

Great movie. I'd also like to add that sadly, some commenters on this page do not know what "irony", "sarcasm" and "satire" mean. Do you not understand that Cohen is making fun of racists and ridiculing racial prejudice..?

Sebastian

Great movie. I'd also like to add that sadly, some commenters on this page do not know what "irony", "sarcasm" and "satire" mean. Do you not understand that Cohen is making fun of racists and ridiculing racial prejudice..?

Bob

Whilst a bit silly at times its no holds barred pure comedic genius and an interesting commentary on east west divide. Absolutely hilarious. How anyone can not find this movie funny in parts I really don't understand

Bob

Whilst a bit silly at times its no holds barred pure comedic genius and an interesting commentary on east west divide. Absolutely hilarious. How anyone can not find this movie funny in parts I really don't understand

Justin Berkovi

Yet another awful TIME OUT review where I cannot for the life of me wonder where the critics get their opinions from. This time it's awarding a film too much credit. Whilst I loved Borat and Bruno, this film is a big let down. The jokes are forced, the humour sometimes hilarious but often just so stupid and base that you almost wince in embarrassment. It's time to move on to other projects I think for Cohen - the trailer promised something a lot more. Unfortunately the film itself was much worse

David

Rubbish. Sasha Baron Cohen's bitter racism and prejudices are not welcome in London especially while it is hosting the olympics.

JamLa

I don't know what some of u r talking about this is 1 of the best movies I've ever seen it was so funny!!!!!!!!!!!

JamLa

I don't know what some of u r talking about this is 1 of the best movies I've ever seen it was so funny!!!!!!!!!!!

Kacho

This film will appeal to white xenophobes with politcal leanings towards the BNP and EDL. - i.e. trash folk.

Peter

PC sophisticates will spurn this movie and stay at home instead and read the Grauniad lonely hearts column. The rest of us can enjoy this movie (or not) without their baggage. Few 20th and 21st century leaders have been as ludicrous as Gaddaffi - and there are plenty of other African and Arab 'leaders' from this period to add to the roster. To call SBC 'rascist' for mocking them is shameful and utterly gutless.

Peter

PC sophisticates will spurn this movie and stay at home instead and read the Grauniad lonely hearts column. The rest of us can enjoy this movie (or not) without their baggage. Few 20th and 21st century leaders have been as ludicrous as Gaddaffi - and there are plenty of other African and Arab 'leaders' from this period to add to the roster. To call SBC 'rascist' for mocking them is shameful and utterly gutless.

Jenny

Woefully unfunny, I didn't laugh once. Don't waste your money. It really is that bad.

West End Sheesha Girl

There were clearly political motives and personal prejudices behind Baron Cohen (a Jew) making this film where he ridicules arabs and arab culture and language. ANYWAY IT'S A RUBBISH FILM. And obviously Baron Cohen's media machines is sending its cronies to come to internet review pages to post 5 stars .

Ian

This has been a very difficult film to review. There are good bits and some are very good but none of it is really great. There are nods to comic heroes such as the Great Dictator type speech and the Morecambe and Wise bring me sunshine nod but overall it is a bit of a let down. It relies too much on profanity and schoolboy sexual innuendo and random violence. If you liked Borat and Ali G you will probably love this. If you didn't then you probably won't. Its infantile and not as funny as it thinks it is. A fair 3 stars with the good bits countering the over reliance on smut and nob gags. Sasha it is time to grow up if you want to be more than a one trick pony.

Cinema Spy

Dear Nick Barr, they should take your degree back. Clearly you do not have enough taste or brains to get it from a better university or get a PhD. You were obviously too busy looking at "who was there" and did not watch the film! I am just back from cinema – do not waste your money, people, it is is bad! And Sasha can not act.

Archie

I am looking forward to his next film where he plays a xenophobic Israeli.

ashley

if u need a good laugh you should definitely watch this movie!! I could not stop laughing even thinking about the good old head is making me laugh now!

ashley

if u need a good laugh you should definitely watch this movie!! I could not stop laughing even thinking about the good old head is making me laugh now!

gregor

Here's what I think: SBC and his compadres have set out to hoodwink the mainstream cinema-going audience..for fun! The trailer promises to lampoon the Middle Eastern dictator-kitsch lifestyle in a Carry On Up The Khyber kinda way; but after about 15 minutes of that, the viewer is suddenly bundled onto a flight to the US&A, where a light is shone painfully in the face of America and Americans. Hypocrisy is exposed in Hollywood, in the alternative movement, in the promoters of US-style democracy and in attitudes to the People's Republic of China. Of course there is potty humour and willy jokes, as well as slapstick and weak gags drawn out so much that they become funny again, but this is a multi-layered work that stays in the mind after viewing. See it for your self and decide.

gregor

Here's what I think: SBC and his compadres have set out to hoodwink the mainstream cinema-going audience..for fun! The trailer promises to lampoon the Middle Eastern dictator-kitsch lifestyle in a Carry On Up The Khyber kinda way; but after about 15 minutes of that, the viewer is suddenly bundled onto a flight to the US&A, where a light is shone painfully in the face of America and Americans. Hypocrisy is exposed in Hollywood, in the alternative movement, in the promoters of US-style democracy and in attitudes to the People's Republic of China. Of course there is potty humour and willy jokes, as well as slapstick and weak gags drawn out so much that they become funny again, but this is a multi-layered work that stays in the mind after viewing. See it for your self and decide.

zee symes

One of the worst ever supposed to be funny films i have ever seen. There was not one bit in it that was funny, mind you there was just one good bit, the end;-) chardvark

Bret 565

Xenophobes will love this film. Marketing victims of the huge publicity machine promoting this film will regret it. Time for Baron Cohen to retire and get a job in a bank or as a diamond trader.

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