The Dictator

BASIL FRANCIS thinks with such a wide range of outrageous entertainment, The Dictator has the ability to generate huge laughs all the way through

Anna Faris basil francis Ben Kingsley Comedy john c. reilly Larry Charles Sacha Baron Cohen The Dictator

Directed by Larry Charles


Let me start by saying that if you expect to sit through a Sacha Baron Cohen film without being offended, then you clearly know nothing about him. Those who are in any way squeamish towards the indecent treatment of women, children, Jews, Muslims, dead people, black people, 9/11 and/or rape should not see this film. Once again, Baron Cohen delivers a film that is about as respectful and sensitive as a 1955 Alabama bus driver.

Importantly, The Dictator is markedly different to Borat and Brüno, returning to a more conventionally scripted comedy film without relying on the outrageous reactions of unsuspecting non-actors. However, not all has changed. Once again, Baron Cohen portrays a foreigner speaking in broken English, this time a farcical send-up of Gaddafi with elements of other famous dictators thrown in. Once again, the character enjoys living in a bubble of oblivion and naivety, blissfully unaware of the offense he creates and under his thick shell of impudence, just wants to be loved.

A political film it may be, but The Dictator always stays close to its true goal: comedy. The movie is positively saturated with jokes, running gags, physical comedy, satire, dark humour, non-sequiturs and even something that would work as a standalone sketch, with varying levels of quality and political correctness throughout. Once again, Baron Cohen takes a very visceral approach to comedy, often taking rather risqué scenes and drawing them out much further than other comedic writers would dare, in an effort to make the audience squirm in their seats.

While I won’t divulge the elements of the plot, I will let on that it gets rather daft towards the middle. In particular, a scene where our main characters must deliver a baby together comes off as surreal and slightly out of place, but hilarious all the same. The plot feels designed around the jokes, but when I’m laughing this much, this isn’t really an issue.

You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs and Sacha Baron Cohen has broken as many political eggs as he can to form a giant laughter omelette. With such a wide range of outrageous entertainment, the film has the ability to generate huge laughs all the way through, making this comedy a success as far as I’m concerned.