Almost everything I loved in ‘Borat’ is missing in ‘The Dictator’ - the most recent installment from Sacha Baron Cohen. To add to the insult, the title of one of the best films ever made is being hijacked for something that may be as ambitious, but this ‘Dictator’ has nothing of the human fabric, symbolism and melodramatic power of Chaplin’s classical. There is also an almost direct quote with the speech of the ‘dictator’ at the moment of climax of the movie, but the difference between the magic of the moment Chaplin approaches the microphone and the so-expected turn of mood in Cohen’s speech is abyssal.





As in his previous movies Sacha Baron Cohen plays with stereotypes. After cautiously projecting some North Korean and Sadam Hussein frames at the start it focuses on the image of Arab dictator of an imaginary country in the North of Africa. Later the script takes its hero to Manhattan, somehow similar situations with the ones in ‘Borat’ but almost everything is prefabricated. Some arrows are being thrown towards the leftist and ecological movements, and there is even some romance in the plot. Which does not make it less simplistic (bad) and anarchistic (good when coming from Cohen).


(video source RepublicOfWadiya’s channel)


Gone are the feeling of improvisation, the audacity of the social criticism, the ‘cine-verite’ style. In are some of the Leslie Nielsen parodies gags. Yes, we get some laughs from time to time, but they are more caused by the classical physical comedy jokes, this is not really what I expected from Sacha Baron Cohen. Ben Kinsley is having some fun in an other of those anti-casting roles he is picking lately.

This film placed a challenge to its authors, as it’s not easy to deal with the Arab or Muslim cultures in comedies. The result is too polite, but this will probably not buy the film too many export licenses in Arab countries. However, if I am to compare ‘The Dictator’ with previous films from Cohen and director Larry Charles, I would say that what is missing is actually the ‘chutzpah’.