HD Radio Classical 90.9 WGUC Jazz on WGUC HD2
Listen Online
What's Playing
Program Schedule
Support WGUC
Sponsorships & Advertising
Community Calendar
Cincinnati Spotlight

WGUC Reviews
WGUC Events
90.9 Store

Classics for Kids
90-Second Naturalist
Corbett Studio
91.7 WVXU
About Us
Contact Us

WGUC Reviews

The Dictator

The Dictator
Four by Two Films
Rated R
Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas

As with so many humorists and comedians of our era, Sacha Baron Cohen works within the framework of both scattershot and scatological. The general idea is to throw anything and everything against the wall and see if anyone laughs at it. Sometimes it works: his debut feature, Borat, was a huge success. The second film, Bruno, less so. The current release The Dictator is somewhere in the middle.

In this tale of a dictator from a fictional North African country, Baron Cohen as Admiral General Aladeen is challenged to give a speech at the United Nations regarding the oppression of his people. While in New York, those who plot against him arrange for him to be stripped of his trademark beard, which renders him unrecognizable, as well as his clothes, and set adrift in the midst of America and American culture.

It is the standard “fish out of water” tale, and probably owes more than a passing nod to Eddie Murphy’s Coming To America. What Baron Cohen offers up during the brief eighty-three minutes running time, can go either way, depending on your sense of humor, or your sensibilities about what’s going on in the world today.

Some of the jokes, gags and dialogue crash land with a thud. You have to wonder, “What was he thinking?” On the other hand, in the next frame, you get something even more outrageous or potentially offensive that is belly laugh funny, even though you may feel a certain level of guilt about laughing.

In addition to Baron Cohen, the cast features Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley as Tamir, The Dictator’s prime minister. Anna Faris plays the left-wing do-gooder head of a food co-op in Brooklyn, with whom Aladeen becomes smitten. An unbilled John C. Reilly is hilarious as a security expert hired to protect Aladeen while in the Big Apple. And if you blink, or go for popcorn, you might miss cameos by the likes of Megan Fox, Chris Elliot, Garry Shandling, and Edward Norton.

Director Larry Charles has helmed all three of Baron Cohen’s film outings, so they obviously work well together. Charles is most noted for his work producing TV series such as Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage.

And even though Baron Cohen stars, co-wrote and co-produced The Dictator, there’s another family member involved who really shines: brother Erran Baron Cohen, who’s a musician and composer of all of Sacha’s film scores. His music cues and pseudo-ethnic songs are just terrific, and a joy to listen to.

While Sacha Baron Cohen may be an acquired taste, his terrific turn as the train station gendarme in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo offers proof that he’s extremely capable of delivering a serious, affecting performance. I am hopeful he will get another chance to do that again.

The R-rated The Dictator is now repressing his country at theatres everywhere. However, don’t take your 81-year-old Aunt Minnie. She’s likely to pummel you with popcorn.


Listen Online

Windows Media

Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter or our daily playlist!

An oasis in a hectic world
WGUC 90.9 FM | 1223 Central Parkway | Cincinnati, OH 45214-2890 • (513) 241-8282
©2015 Cincinnati Public Radio, Inc. All rights reserved. | Contact Us
Make your contribution online
Become a Sustaining Member
Update Your Information
Text 2 Give
Gifts of Stock
Donating Vehicles
Planned Giving
Joseph-Beth Gives Back Program
Protect My Public Media
On-Air Hosts
Our Staff
Our Underwriters
E-News Publications
Award-Winning Productions
Mission Statement
Our Board of Directors
Our Community Board
Jobs at Cincinnati Public Radio
EEO Statement
eTech Ohio
Privacy Policy
Cincinnati Public Radio's Revenues and Expenditures
What's Playing
Listen Online
Purchase CDs
BBB Accredited Charity