the dictator - empire state building - helicopter

Sacha Baron Cohen (SBC) stars as Wadiyan Leader General Aladeen in The Dictator. An almost cartoon like amalgamation of Gaddafi and Hussein, peppered with a hint of ‘lil Kim Jong for good measure. It’s a little odd to see SBC in his own feature film rather than his usual mockumentaries, but it was bound to happen after making several appearances in other filmmakers features for Talladega Nights, Sweeney Todd and Hugo.

Comedians can pull off great performances when collaborating with good directors, actors or writers, but when they take charge of their own projects, it can become difficult for them to objectively judge what is funny and what isn’t. Especially when you’re surrounded by hordes of ‘Yes Men’ telling you that the sun shines out of your arse. Adam Sandler is a perfect example of what can happen to a good comedian, when surrounded by an entourage of idiots who will call any shitty idea you have a masterpiece.

With The Dictator you get the sense that SBC was not given the feedback he needed to construct a better comedy. His jokes seemed outdated, obvious and lacked the raunchiness of his previous films, which is a shame considering the film’s potential for such a timely satire. At times the film reminds me of Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America – but of course that was funny 25+ years ago. The trailer pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the film and contains the funniest clip which involves SBC, and rising star Jason Mantzoukas, in a helicopter-flyover of New York City that goes hilariously wrong. Other than that you’re left with the lazy racial stereotyping and an unnecessary ‘love interest’ in Anna Farris, which could have been replaced with more scenes between Mantzoukas and SBC, to allow for more improvisation to take place – something both comedians excel at and could have made the film much better.

Surprisingly though, an early review from the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw gave the film, an overly-inflated 4 out of 5 stars! Seriously! That’s the sort of praise you’d expect from the Daily Mail – who’s critic, Chris Tookey, gave the film an astounding 5 out of 5 stars!

Were these two critics sharing the same peace pipe? And was Chris Tookey hogging it? ‘Cos if thats the case, then I need a re-up pronto. Oh and Peter, do you realise that you’re not supposed to write about the entire plot in the review?

Grade: D

The Dictator hits the cinemas on May 16th – but seriously, don’t bother.

[See the trailer here]


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