The Dictator, 83mins (15)
Despot comedy is no laughing matter
Saturday 19 May 2012
The latest character to give Sacha Baron Cohen the license to say outrageous and offensive things is General Aladeen, the composite ruler of an oil-rich Middle Eastern country, as despotic as he is idiotic.
Used to having his own way and liable to execute any and all opposition voices, he's like a spoilt, ignorant and unsocialised child. So perhaps it's no wonder that, when the fish-out-of-water plot robs his identity and dumps him in New York, the film's sense of humour is so immature and scatological.
In Borat and Brüno, Cohen caused calculated offence in order to gauge the morality, taste and decency of the real people and situations with which he interacted. But there are no real people or real situations in The Dictator, only flimsy caricatures, so all we're left with is the sight of a previously daring comic performer mining cheap laughs from bodily functions and women's underarm hair. There are a handful of inspired inversions and throwaway lines, but Cohen's targets are far too easy. And seeming to reveal – for the first time in one of his films – the desire to be liked, he even goes soft on Aladeen: the general is put into conventional rom-com situations in which we're supposed to root for him, hope that he gets the girl, and conveniently overlook the fact that he's a murderous paedophile dictator.
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Lucy Hawking: Stephen Hawking's daughter writes impassioned open letter to Katie Hopkins about rights of disabled people
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 3 Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband: 'You gotta vote Labour'
- 4 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
X-Men Apocalypse: First look at Jubilee and Jean Grey played by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner
American Horror Story: Hotel Angela Bassett set to make 'lots of trouble' with Lady Gaga in season 5
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 4 - review: Sansa is in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
May the Fourth Be With You: The internet celebrates Star Wars Day with new Twitter symbols and memes
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
Andy McSmith's Sketch: Feisty audience is the real star of an enlightening show