This is the story of a dictator (Sacha Baron Cohen) who, after an attempted assassination attempt, must ‘save’ his country from the plague of democracy. Baron Cohen’s latest effort sees the comedian move away from his unscripted satirical approach that made Borat so popular, to an entirely scripted effort that is a glorified rom-com.
Of course, it’s not his fault that he can no longer parody as an inflammatory character on the street – he has simply become too recognisable. However, what is Baron Cohen’s fault is that so many of the jokes in this film fall flat. They’re not that funny. I’m not even speaking from my feminist, politically correct high horse, either. You go into a film like The Dictator expecting the jokes to be racist, sexist, gross, over-the-top, sensationalist and provocative. What I didn’t expect, however, was the complete lack of wit. This so-called ‘poli-slapstick’ is no politics and all slap-in-the-face.
There are few amusing moments and fewer still genuinely laugh-out-loud moments. There is a great monologue from Baron Cohen at the end of the film about how much better America would be if it weren’t a democracy (he then lists a number of atrocities that could be committed against citizens under a dictatorship… that the US already commits) – but this is one of the only moments that stands-out in my memory.
Unfortunately The Dictator is neither incisive nor intelligently hilarious; it’s basically just ignorant nonsense.