The Dictator

Sacha Baron Cohen has offended a lot of people in his time in the limelight. From Borat and Bruno, he offended unsuspecting people in obscure situations to satirize the American public. While he may want people to notice their ignorance and close-minded beliefs, he generally just pisses people off. In The Dictator, Cohen seems to have decided to make a checklist of whom to infuriate and no one is safe from his scrutiny.


I usually attempt to make a plot description here, but the IMDB description is too good to pass up. “The heroic story of a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.” Rarely is the summary of a movie so carefully worded to mimic the outrageous humor presented.

If you couldn’t tell from the commercials, Cohen is going all out to mock Arabs, Jews, Chinese, Filipinos, Americans (white and black) and much, much more – I think the Hispanic and Latin communities are the only ones that survive this racial onslaught. From the opening few scenes, it is blatantly obvious why so many communities, primarily the Arab community, are in an uproar over the immensely racist jokes. I am not easily offended, but in the initial twenty minutes, I even began to become annoyed for them – more from quantity than content though. The jokes come fast and furious and it just begins to wear you down before the real heart of the story has even begun. Don’t get me wrong; I still laughed, but the strength of that laugh steadily decreased.

Proving my statement in The Wackness more poignant than ever, Ben Kingsley takes on another eccentric role as Aladeen’s right-hand man Tamir. He’s only there to provide an “antagonist”, but the things Cohen convinced Kingsley to do are degrading and surprising he lowered himself to Cohen’s level. There are also more cameos from notoriously serious actors throughout the film – one in particular I won’t ruin – that add to the general confusion of the audience as to how persuasive Cohen must be in real life.

As can be expected, the jokes are of the lowbrow type. Some are actually quite clever, but for the most part Cohen is using his shock style to garner laughs. From a Wii game at the Munich Olympics to “A Moment Like This” blasting during a masturbation scene, you can start to visualize the aforementioned list. Yet, by the end, the Middle East and Northern Africa are the most vehemently insulted with, by now, very bland stereotypes.

Much like Will Ferrell, I am now waiting for something new and fresh from Sacha Baron Cohen. While you may say The Dictator is different for being a fictional story, it is essentially more of the same. You’ll laugh a bit, but leave feeling underwhelmed.

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