The Dictator is no Borat

Published: May 29, 2012

This is amongst the first of the few American movies that have dared to make a dig at 9/11 and make the audience laugh - a bold step in itself. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Those who are familiar with Ali G, Borat and Bruno, must definitely be waiting for the new and much awaited movie by Larry Charles called The Dictator which stars Sacha Baron Cohen.

There is no doubt that the actor is amongst the finest comedians and can bring life into any script with flare. But this particular movie surprisingly received a mixed reaction from the audience.

The Dictator is based on the bestselling novel Zabibah and the King, purportedly penned by Saddam Hussein.

The movie tells the tale of a ruler (a dictator) who lived a jeopardised life trying to make sure that democracy never enters his land. Cohen portrays the role of Admiral General Aladdin along with the talented Ben Kingsley as Taamir.

As far as the performances of both the actors are concerned, without a doubt, they both do justice to their roles. But one cannot go overboard when the script is weak and unfortunately, that’s what happened in the case of The Dictator. Well-known writers Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer could not manage the mirth that was expected. On the contrary, the direction by Charles is what, in my opinion, saved the movie.

While Cohen is a brilliant actor, the role that is played by him in this particular movie wasn’t too impressive. Having said that, he manages to provide some great laughs, especially when he discusses Osama bin Laden and his death. Ana Faris’ performance is pretty solid too.

This is amongst the first of the few American movies that have dared to make a dig at 9/11 and make the audience laugh – a bold step in itself.

Those who have high hopes from The Dictator will definitely be disappointed; those who are watching it just for the heck of it might actually like the movie. Some jokes are funny but the the rest range from filthy to terrible to insensitive.

Advice: Before watching this movie, throw away the expectations that came along with the legacy that is Borat.

My personal rating for the movie was a 5.5/10. Let’s hope it fares better with you!

Read more by Shafiq here, or follow him on Twitter @shafiqulhasan81

Shafiq Ul Hasan

Shafiq Ul Hasan

The author is an avid movie lover and reviews films and dramas regularly. He is a professional digital inbound marketer. He has worked with a silicon valley-based social network as a content analyst. He blogs at and tweets as @shafiqulhasan81 (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • kaalchakra

    My sensitivities were deeply hurt just looking at the beard. I have a beard like that too.Recommend

  • sane

    @kaalchakra: Why did you hurt? The beard looks great on him. Cheers. Recommend

  • Dictation101

    The movie was awesome. C’mon man! 5.5? Atleast a 7. Watched the movie coz i’m a big fan…lets face it, who isn’t ;) @kaalchakra: aik toh people with beards get really emotional and ‘senti’ about this. Sit back and watch the movie, its really good :) Recommend

  • TheTruth

    I thought it was a hilarious movie. Bruno was disappointing and downright disgusting at times, but this one was excellent. Can’t touch Borat, but still a solid 8/10 at least. Roger Ebert gave it 3 out of 4 stars as well.Recommend

  • Shafiq

    At twitter it is “shafiqulhasan81″…
    and not shafiqulhasan8Recommend

  • justathought

    hardly known for its radicalism, even Foreign Policy ran this review:

    sad to see that pakistan’s english language press is not calling out racism where it sees it.
    you know, he’s making fun of people who look and talk like you, right?Recommend

  • J

    Doesn’t Sacha Baron Cohen look like Junaid Jamshed with that beard?Recommend

  • Zain

    Actually its not based on that book, and that claim is part of the joke.Recommend

  • Bisharat Abbasi

    A degenerate empire [U.S], with degenerate and third rate entertainment.:-)Recommend

  • sick of this nonsense

    sensitivities apart this was one great review. Did not give away the plot and told us what to expect. Excellent.Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    Did you just call the legendary Ben Kingsley ‘talented’? Did you honestly use that term? Recommend

  •!/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    Some jokes in the film are a combination of filthy and insensitive, and they are the most hilarious.Recommend

  • Zeeshan Ummaid Ali

    Hilarious Sasha. I liked his borat movies but it can never be watched with family so a big failure to that.
    I’d rather watch Mahira, see my post if you like

  • Maria

    The Dictator is actually not based on the novel Zabibah and the King, though it was claimed to have been. It was later cleared up in this article and on

  • Gupt Rogue

    Whats with the punjabi music?Recommend

  • FS

    A good slap on puppet democracyRecommend

  • amit sharma


  • dictator006

    man sacha baron cohen is legendary…love that guy!!Recommend

  • Pollack

    The best scene is when the dictator competes in a running race and shoots all his fellow runners who overtake him. Real world and can be applied to many dictators in the middle east and else where. Some people are disturbed by this movie because the attitudes it caricatures iis true in many societies around the world.Recommend

  • Sidra Ahmed

    OMG this movie was sooo funny yet disgusting!!! Cohen’s impersonation of an Arab dictator was awesome but some scenes were just plain NASTY, like when Zoe is giving him a weird tutorial…or when the fake dictator thinks his concubines are cows. It was so so awkward watching that with my friends in a big theatre. I would say it’s very much a teenage guy movie.Recommend