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3.7 out of 5 stars227
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VINE VOICEon 8 December 2014
The Dictator is a 2012 comedy featuring Sacha Baron Cohen as an Arab tyrant brought low after being kidnapped while attending the UN General Assembly. The thin plot sees Cohen's Admiral General Aladeen blunder his way through various culture clashes as he learns about the world through employment at a vegan, feminist, non-profit cooperative. The plot is largely about the jokes rather than the story. At a superficial level this is easily dismissed as kind of silly but it is impressively even-handed in its dismantling of Arab fascism, big oil, and leftist anti-ism. More important that any of that, The Dictator is funny. Not exactly Borat funny but filled with great quips and lots of visual humour. Some of the humour is a little too low-brow but in the main it is another funny Sacha Baron Cohen outing to be entertained by.

Cohen's performance borrows heavily from Borat. The difference between Aladeen and Borat boils down to wit. Aladeen is just as bumbling and incompetent at times, especially when forced to work a mundane job. Unlike Borat, Aladeen is full of put-downs and retorts, spending most of the film berating or insulting someone. Amid our fearful, politically correct times, this kind of humour that insults all sides equally is most welcome.

The plot expands the wit by showing Aladeen to actually be much more effective when taking charge of the co-operative he works for. Aladeen is brutal and unpleasant. He gets the job done. The Dictator savagely skewers the utopian notion that we are all the same.

The unchecked power of dictatorship leads Aladeen into trouble. The cartoonish way he condemns even his most loyal subjects to death for the most insignificant of failings is hilarious black humour. Quite probably inspired by the notorious video of Saddam Hussein's condemning so many of his Baathist contemporaries when he consolidated his power, it is a pointed barb directed at the idiocy of so many absolute rulers and their extreme paranoia.

Sacha Baron Cohen works well with a sidekick. A close friend to humiliate and be brought back down to Earth suits his socially unaware characters. The Dictator has Nuclear Nadal. Of course Nadal is not a name native to the Arab-speaking world. It isn't a particularly funny name so is presumably just a reference to one of the great nicknames of all time - Chemical Ali. Nadal is a WMD specialist, brilliant in his field. It is a great, subtle dig on all sides. Against the West for their invasion of Iraq over WMD but also against the anti-war brigade given Saddam did actually have WMD - he used them on the two largest non-Sunni Arab populations in his country.

The interactions between Aladeen and Nadal played by Jason Mantzoukas are uniformly hilarious. Sacha Baron Cohen does bickering better than anyone, the barbs the pair trade are brilliant. Aladeen's casual and mainly un-challenged racism is excellent in a Hollywood film. Hard to believe he got away with calling Mitchell Green's Dinka character a sub-Saharan. Such a clever way to say something so unpleasant yet also speaks to the relationships across that great physical and cultural divide. The reference to child soldiers is painfully funny and also uncomfortable.

The main plot line revolves not around Aladeen's relationships with his Wadiyan counterparts nor other non-Americans but is mostly about his inappropriate love for Zoey played by Anna Faris. It is a role many miles away from the ones Faris is normally cast in. She is almost unrecognisable with a boyish crop and deliberately asexual clothing. Zoey is everything Aladeen should despise. Equally Aladeen should be everything Zoey objects to. While she does correct his behaviour at times, the relationship between the two is much better for the complete lack of any values in common. The moment Aladeen punctures moral relativism by arguing that Zoey's choices in life are as bad as his own dictatorial excesses is delivered with such a broad grin it is hard to do anything but laugh out loud.

Inevitably there are some bum notes in this as in all of Sacha Baron Cohen's film work. The sequence featuring grotesquely over-sized breasts used as a weapon is just not funny. An extended sequence about masturbation is completely unnecessary, adding no value to plot or character, and most egregiously just not being funny. Hard to see why this lengthy sequence was included as it could easily have been edited down to avoid what is simultaneously The Dictator's slowest and least funny moment. A bad bit of directing by Larry Charles there.

The Dictator is not a sparklingly directed film. It gets by mostly on Aladeen's witty barbs and Baron Cohen's ability to imbue unpleasant people with such endearing pathos. There are few who could make such a cruel person work so well as the hero by making his detachment from the challenges of ordinary life leave Aladeen so unsuited to deal with the trials he faces. It helps that his cartoonish title of Admiral General along with his sparkling white military uniform go so well with the big bushy beard and the huge grin. Aladeen looks great, a terrific pastiche.

Aladeen's outlandish appearance contrasts starkly with that of his uncle Tamir played by Ben Kingsley. Tamir is calculating and cold. He is not the type of person who seems to rise to dictatorial positions even though it seems he would probably be much better at it. The bombastic Aladeen is the leader despite his intellectual flaws,

The Dictator offers humour at the expense of all sides. It does go too far on one occasion as the guttural nature of Arabic is laughed at a bit too much with Baron Cohen spewing phlegm. It is true to say that Arabic occasionally sounds unpleasant to western ears but it is another thing to mock it to that extent given Baron Cohen's own heritage.

Fortunately there is enough here to ensure blatant critique of the west as well. The big oil obsession is all a bit obvious but at least they get their share of the blame. The pervy Chinese oil magnate is particularly genious. The defining speech of the film though is a withering criticism of democratic deficit in the US. Impressive to be given such a devastating litany of barbs directed at US failings that seem to last for such a long time. Lining the various criticisms up together and using Aladeen as the voice is pitch perfect.

The Dictator is not always pitch perfect but it gets a lot right. It does not get the special features right. They are boring. The main feature seems to be an interview of Aladeen conducted by Larry King. King is his usual gruff but playful self. Aladeen's retorts are unimpressive.

The Dictator is funny. It is silly and slapstick at times but wrapped up in some biting political satire. There are some down moments but for just under an hour and a half of banter and barbs it is a fun film. Not in the same class as Borat but well worth seeing nonetheless.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 2 February 2013
While The Dictator maintains it's satire with a rude & crude approach to it's humour, which won't be to everyone's tastes, it's very much more conventional as a movie than Sacha Baron Cohen's predecessors in Borat & Bruno. In that is very much more a structured movie with a traditional plot with a beginning , middle & ending, as opposed to the TV camera crew following a set of outrageous moments with random people.

The plot is quite simple, Sacha Baron Cohen plays the eccentric dictator of the North African nation of Wadiya, Aladeen. While his 2nd in command who should had been the next in line to the throne, Tamir (Ben Kingsley -Gandhi), plots to overthrow him. As his latest assassination attempt fails , Tamir decides to take Aladeen out of his comfort zone to America, to address the United Nations, and have him assassinated there, while Aladeen's double will make Wadiya a democracy on World T.V & profit from the oil rights himself. But things don't go quite to plan, as a de-bearded Aladeen runs amok in New York to great comical ends, in a life affirming experience as he meets & falls in love with the beautiful hairy boy child Zoey (Anna Faris -Scary Movie). Comedy & mayhem ensue as Aladeen runs into people with totally different beliefs to his own.

Overall i found The Dictator to be an hilarious movie with many comedy set pieces, i felt offended & shocked in places but i couldn't help but laugh, although some of the jokes fell flat, like the Wadiya meaning of positive & negative for example. On the flip side it was very clever & great satire on real life. The running jokes in the film had me in stitches, especially Bobby Lee (Harold & Kumar) as the Chinese delegate who has a penchant for American Hollywood actors who will do anything for money apparently. And Aladeen's own trophy wall of celebs, with cameo's by Megan Fox & Edward Norton bringing this to fruition. John C.Reilly (Step Brothers) as a racist US government agent, had an hilarious torture scene with Aladeen. Sacha Baron Cohen is hilarious in the lead, while Ben Kingsley's role is quite reserved in comparison, yet his gravitas is welcome to give the villain that serious edge required to counterbalance things & Anna Faris is right at home with her comic rapport with Cohen.

In conclusion, i found the more traditional film approach of The Dictator an easier transition back into the genius of Sacha Baron Cohen's work. For those who prefer his more edgy Bruno/Borat shock T.V style this may seem like Sascha selling out to Hollywood with a mainstream approach & probably be a little disappointed. Recommended.
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on 5 August 2014
the disc is in good condition and zoverstocks always sell their products at a great price. on the other hand, the film was fairly boring in many parts, I almost considered turning it off. the only reason I didn't is because the odd moment made me laugh. basically, the plot is terrible and doesn't grip you at all, infact it can be very confusing, but sacha does well playing his role.
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on 21 December 2013
funny but not enough to make you laugh your a** off like borat or bruno. still a nice movie for fans of sacha
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on 3 April 2016
I think Sacha Baron Cohen is a very intelligent producer who presents serious issues in a way that entices higher intellectual philosophical thought. Watching The Dictator prompted me to reflect on political issues and ideas and links to bias and the media. The film was very enjoyable and made my husband and I laugh out loud on numerous occasions. There was not any moments that were over-the-top cringe and this (I believe) supported my view that this film offered serious reflection on the issues that affect us all in today's modern world. I personally believe that Sacha Baron Cohen's personal religious worldview/upbringing influences his focus of presenting ideas (often uncomfortable for many) to highlight and question the modern world and people's idiosyncracies.

As for the plot - as entertainment it's hilarious in my view. The acting is great (quite a few stars in this film). Some of the lines make me laugh when I reflect on the film. In addition the soundtrack to this film is fantastic; Popular pop/R n B songs sung in a different language and this adds to the whole entertainment of the film. Very cleverly done!

Overall I don't find this film as having as many cringe moments as Borat. I would definitely watch this film again. Moreover I would recommend this film for anyone who appreciates the work of Sacha Baron Cohen, anyone who is in the mood for watching an hilarious comedy and for anyone who enjoys the genre of satire. I have awarded The Dictator five stars because it's a great film and nothing could be altered or changed to make it any better - perfect comedy!
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on 26 February 2016
I hadn't watched any of SBC's stuff in a while but stumbled upon some classic quotes in the media as he has a new film out. I wondered why I had lost touch with him and, on checking Amazon, wondered why this blu ray was so cheap. 4 stars average so how bad could it be? Then I watched it and found out there was a direct correlation between the cheap price and the even cheaper humour. There was always a touch of the puerile to SBC's work but there was also satire and you knew, or thought you knew, that his tongue was placed firmly in his cheek. Besides, who doesn't have a childish side? Problem seems to be that over the years the satire has pretty much disappeared, though he does make the occasional, half-assed, heavily-labeled and tired attempt. His comedy seems to have long-since lost any of the edge it once had and all that remains is schoolboy humour. Again, that was always part of his work, but without a counterpoint it just becomes obvious, tedious and on occasion more than a bit embarrassing. Perhaps 13 year olds would find the Dictator hilarious, possibly even profound, but given the film is rated 15+ it seems to have missed its target audience. I get the impression that SBC is following the money and targeting a particular market with this one - and why not I suppose. If I had the option to make a few million out of cheap humour I dare say I'd say 'bargain' and grab the chance with both hands. Hope it works out for him, he's meant to be a nice guy. But for me, I'll just give his stuff a miss in future I think.
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on 22 November 2015
The creator of Ali G, Brüno, and Borat is back! Sacha Baron Cohen is now Admiral General Aladeen of the Republic of Wadiya in The Dictator from Paramount Pictures. Is this on par with Charlie Chaplin’s Hitler caricature in The Great Dictator? Or is it just another crude stereotype trying to squeeze a little more life out of the rampant success of Borat?

Young Aladeen became supreme leader of the African country of Wadiya at the age of seven. Since then, he has ruled his kingdom with an iron fist. Anyone who disobeys him is tortured or killed. Over the years, he has made friends with fellow leaders such as Kim Jong-il and Moammar Gadhafi. He has also made a lot of enemies within the United Nations over his country’s nuclear weapons program. He is ordered by the UN to speak to the delegation or military action will be enforced. So General Aladeen decides it is best for his Kingdom to come to America.

But conspirators within the regime want Aladeen taken out. So an assassin is hired to kidnap, torture, and eventually kill the supreme leader. Aladeen outwits the would be assassin and escapes, but not without losing his signature beard. General Aladeen races to the UN in order to give his speech, but no one believes he is who he is. A riot breaks out and a young shop owner and activist named Zoe helps him out and gives him a job. It is now up to Aladeen to infiltrate the UN and ensure democracy is never established in the county he has oppressed.

I am a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen. I liked Da Ali G Show and I thought Borat was an absolute brilliant commentary on American prejudice. So when I heard he was making a movie about a ruthless leader of an oppressed country, I had high expectations of what the movie would be. I was almost imagining a parody of a made up dictator, the way the Kim Jong-il was parodied by the South Park guys in Team America: World Police or by Bobby Lee on Mad TV. To my disappointment, The Dictator turned out to just be a series of in your face raunchy jokes ran together with a forgettable story. Now don’t get me wrong, I love crude dick and fart jokes, but Sacha Baron Cohen seemed to not have any real imagination with his character. General Aladeen was nothing more than a ruthless oppressor just looking for a cuddle partner.

The main problem with The Dictator is the absolutely forgettable story. The film started strong with the origin story of General Aladeen growing up, obtaining power, and even holding a sporting even in his honor. Real life news clips of Barack Obama and other leaders were edited in to give an almost documentary feeling. My interest was piqued.

But when Aladeen escapes his kidnappers in America, the whole plot falls apart as did my interest. Jokes were borderline funny that I could not help but laugh at the sheer stupidity. And as the movie went on, it was almost pity laughter from myself and fellow audience members. There were indeed some moments that were genuinely funny, but those were few and far between. By the time Sacha Baron Cohen delivers what the film’s real agenda and social commentary is all about, its too-little-too-late to redeem the film.

i genuinely liked the character of The Dictator. I admire how Sacha Baron Cohen completely becomes his characters on and off screen. It adds to the validity of the comedy. But just like how a magician never does the same trick twice, the effect of completely portraying the character ended with Borat. That’s what made Borat even more powerful: you knew it was just a character, but because it was a mockumentary, it was a better attempt of suspending disbelief. What is sad it that Cohen is actually a really good actor, evident in his work in Hugo.

The rest of cast played bit parts or appeared as brief cameos. Ben Kingsley’s talents were wasted in this film playing as the General’s second in command. .Anna Ferris played Zoey, the activist shop keeper. Just like a lot of her previous films, I just found her and her voice annoying. The other main character was an Aladeen supporter portrayed by Jason Mantzoukas. He was almost the straight man to Cohen. I don’t want to give away any other of the cameos, but they must have owed some big favors to be in the film.

The Dictator is really a one trick pony, that starts the race strong, but breaks its leg before reaching the finish line. I feel the movie should have had more imagination, but people are going to see this film out of curiosity due to the Academy Awards stunt on the red carpet and the high publicity tour Sacha Baron Cohen is embarking on all over the world to promote the movie. To be honest, the fake website about the make believe country of Wadiya has more creativity and background story that the actual film. With the blockbuster season already started for the year, it’s hard to recommend rushing out to theaters to see The Dictator. I’d say wait and spend a dollar at Red Box in a few months with it’s released on home video. Do yourself a favor, save your money and just watch the trailer. You’ll thank me later.
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on 10 June 2013
A classic film. Bad taste. Bad jokes. Top performance. Loved it.

In terms of cringe worthy did he really say that, it falls half way between Borat and Bruno
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VINE VOICEon 1 October 2012
Sacha Baron Cohen can be a bit of a one character comedy actor. Borat and Bruno were very simmilar though Borat came across funnier and there are elements of both Borat and Bruno in The Dictator though this time Cohen ditches the mock documentary format. Plot wise it is very predictable and you can see the whole thing coming a mile away like one of Dictator Alladeen's pointy missiles but it is still a very fine and very funny comedy with moments of sheer comic genius and inspired lunacy as Cohen's mad African dictator comes to New York to attend a conference at the United Nations and is tricked into losing his power and replaced by a lookalike by his power mad uncle played by a completely straight Ben Kingsley and has to fend for himself and get a job in New York. Sacha Baron Cohen is very good as The Dictator though Anna Farris is a bit wooden as the politically correct woman that helps him and gets him a job in her store. Ben Kingsley is excellent as the power mad uncle and rest of the cast which includes cameos by John C Rielly and Megan Fox are good too. A lot of fun though not exactly original and very predictable but still well worth watching.
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on 20 May 2015
I loved Ali G, Bruno and Borat but this was terrible... It wasn't Sacha Baron Cohens usual antics of winding up unsuspecting members of the public, its all acting like a normal film. Its full of silly immature jokes and just wasn't funny, I was so disappointed as I'm a big fan of Sachas.
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