The Dictator is one of those rare instances where a film can be so offensive that its impossible to like the main character. Sacha Barron Cohen portrays the fictional dictator named General Aladeen who is the leader of a country called Wadiya. He is ruthless in the same way Kim Jong Il was cruel to the people of the Republic of China. General Aladeen is called to the United Nations to address concerns that Wadiya may be developing nuclear weapons. During his trip to the United States, an attempt is made on General Aladeen’s life because his adviser Nadir (Sir Ben Kingsley) wants to take over Wadiya. As a result of this assassination attempt, General Aladeen’s beard is shaved off rendering him unrecognizable to people of the United States and the UN. He is forced to interact with all of the people and things he has been against his whole life in order to get back into the United Nations and confirm that he has nuclear weapons and wants the country of Wadiya to continue as a dictatorship.
I strongly dislike this film. The Dictator is offensive in so many ways that it can be hard to watch. I love that Sacha Baron Cohen has comedy that can be frank and honest but this was a bit too much. I know how to take a joke but in this film almost every joke he uses feels old and played out. I found Anna Faris as the love interest of the film to be a complete waste of time. Anna’s character Zoey serves as the love interest for Aladeen and frankly Zoey has no reason to like him. She spends the majority of the film reprimanding Aladeen for the numerous ways he insults her and other people he has interaction with throughout the film. Aladeen doesn’t really even begin to change the way he treats people when the third act reaches its climax. The only thing that matters to Aladeen is continuing his reign of terror and that is not enough for me to consider this comedy funny.
The one thing I did like about this film is its last five minutes. In those 5 minutes Aladeen makes a speech addressing the United Nations that highlights all of the faults of the United States. He outlines the problems with our politics, the way we treat people, how destroyed our financial system is and its hilarious because he does all of this without directly saying that these are issues that the United States fails to deal with. I found myself wishing that the film had more moments like that speech all throughout the film’s run time.
Sacha Baron Cohen reminds me of a younger and more crude version of Peter Sellers. His characters are always naive and clueless but never lovable. If Cohen could make a lovable offensive character that has a journey then I’d be completely on board, but this scripted style of offensive humor where the jokes are planned and the humor is too harsh has soured my opinion of this comedian and his antics.