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By Jess Fenton
15th May 2012

In the past, Sacha Baron Cohen has regaled us with mockumentaries showcasing American cultural ignorance, homophobia and bigotry. Anonymity was the key to Baron Cohen’s previous films, allowing him to convincingly portray his characters to an unsuspecting audience. Now, due to his success, that anonymity is gone - but not his passion or skill of ripping into the U.S., a talent he has now translated into a scripted comedy.

Fresh out of the gate is ‘The Dictator’. In an ironic twist, the film sees the head of a (fictional) North African nation Wadiya, Admiral General Aladeen, set lose on the streets of New York after an attempt on his life goes astray and he is left without his signature beard. Unrecognisable and perceived to be crazy, a free-spirited organic foods market manager Zoe (Anna Faris) takes pity on Aladeen (nee: Alison Burgers) and accepts him into her fold. A chance run-in with an old acquaintance sees Aladeen team up to try and regain his identity and position while at the same time adjusting to democratic life, friends and falling in love.


Baron Cohen’s General Aladeen is an ignorant, lonely and sex-crazed tyrant, a little too similar to better-known character Borat. ‘The Dictator’s’ jokes aren’t as hard, fast, controversial or audacious as seen in previous outings, but they are still topical - although these are often sacrificed for weaker sex-based humour, or any excuse to use a made-up foreign word for body parts and sexual acts.

While Baron Cohen is no doubt a brave and highly skilled performer and comic, his humour occasionally falls into the ‘hit or miss’ category, and he's far too intelligent to constantly go for the more crude and juvenile jokes he’s flooded this film with.

Baron Cohen’s General Aladeen is an ignorant, lonely and sex-crazed tyrant.

‘The Dictator’ as a scripted comedy has opted for a “Hollywood” character redemption ending that we’re not used to seeing from the star. However seeing that it’s based on romance and doesn’t sacrifice his love of satire (in fact adding to it), he can be forgiven.

This movie will make you laugh, cringe and squirm. Often all three at once, while also being highly offended - it’s a Sacha Baron Cohen film after all.

RELEASE DATE: 16/05/2012
RUN TIME: 01h 23m
CAST: Sacha Baron Cohen
Sayed Badreya
Aasif Mandvi
Megan Fox
Anna Faris
John C. Reilly
Michelle Bergh
Adeel Akhtar
Ben Kingsley
Olivia Taylor Dudley
DIRECTOR: Larry Charles
PRODUCERS: Sacha Baron Cohen
Anthony Hines
Scott Rudin
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