The Dictator Reviews

Top Critic
David Denby
New Yorker
May 22, 2012
The film has a vicious edge that the Marx Brothers didn't have, and it's too low-minded to achieve their enchanting blend of anarchy and surrealism.
Top Critic
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
May 17, 2012
Now [Cohen is] turning material both fresh and rancid into tepid gruel.
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
May 17, 2012
On the laughmeter The Dictator is closer to Borat than to the misfired Bruno, which is to say it's funny for about half of its brisk 83 minutes.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Dana Stevens
Slate
May 16, 2012
Most of The Dictator had me neither laughing nor shocked, but just staring at the screen in anxious is-that-all-there-is? silence.
Top Critic
Christopher Orr
The Atlantic
May 16, 2012
A bit scattershot and schticky, the film never quite settles into a consistent comic rhythm. Yet for fans of Baron Cohen's work there are plenty of moments of crass hilarity.
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Randy Cordova
Arizona Republic
May 16, 2012
For the most part, the movie's rhythms feel slightly off -- there are long stretches without a laugh -- and there is a mean-spirited air to the whole thing.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
May 16, 2012
The Dictator starts at outrageous and rockets on from there. Screw the occasional sputter.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
May 16, 2012
The Dictator is loose and slap-happy and full of sharp political barbs and has funny actors moving in and out - and at a lickety-split 83 minutes, it doesn't wear out its welcome.
Top Critic
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
May 16, 2012
Sacha Baron Cohen's third starring feature, and the first to be fully scripted, is sharp as a scimitar in one scene and wobbly in the next, but it's unfailingly audacious.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
May 16, 2012
For once, Baron Cohen has a real script and a supporting cast as skilled at improv as he is. And those complementary elements make a difference.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
May 16, 2012
Directed by Cohen's longtime collaborator Larry Charles, The Dictator mixes its high and low comedy with surprising success.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Tom Long
Detroit News
May 16, 2012
It reasserts Baron Cohen as a comic force who can't be ignored, dedicated to pushing the envelope and working with real ideas.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
May 16, 2012
It ends up being a lot less hilarious than "Borat,'' and not quite as funny as "Bruno.''
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
May 15, 2012
Although the character of Aladeen seems awfully predictable by Baron Cohen standards, the movie itself veers from one hilarious, absurd and patently offensive setup to the next...
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Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
May 15, 2012
Baron Cohen's demonstrations of political ''outrageousness'' feel all too canned, planned, and defanged.
Full Review | Original Score: C-
Top Critic
Claudia Puig
USA Today
May 15, 2012
While tastelessness is rampant and the humor uneven, The Dictator also has its moments of slyly clever satire.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Betsy Sharkey
Los Angeles Times
May 15, 2012
By turns hysterical, heretical, guilty, innocent, silly, sophisticated, teasing and tedious.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Karina Longworth
Village Voice
May 15, 2012
Even in its manufactured boundary-pushing-a flash of full-frontal Baron Cohen, another scene set partially inside a birth canal-The Dictator never really risks anything.
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Amy Biancolli
San Francisco Chronicle
May 15, 2012
This isn't the last word on cinematic send-ups of totalitarianism -- for that, we still have Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator -- but it's a fine and riotous jab in the ribs.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
May 15, 2012
One of the cleverest moments in Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator comes during the first five seconds: a memorial dedication to Kim Jong Il. It's all downhill from there.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Alonso Duralde
TheWrap
May 15, 2012
For all the movie's messiness and lack of conviction, Baron Cohen makes so many of his gags stick to the wall that it's easy to forgive the film's many flaws.
Top Critic
Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
May 15, 2012
"The Dictator" is too short and undisciplined to be a world-class comedy, but its chutzpah deserves respect.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Melinda Sue Gordon
Toronto Star
May 15, 2012
Cohen and Charles deserve kudos for departing from their usual formula of setting Cohen's crazed characters loose in the real world.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
May 15, 2012
Potential is mostly squandered in "The Dictator," which gestures halfheartedly toward topicality and, with equal lack of conviction, toward pure, anarchic silliness.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
May 15, 2012
Cohen is actually Chaplin's antithesis, a first-world bully content to target the Other.
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Rafer Guzman
Newsday
May 15, 2012
[A] hugely offensive, outrageously funny farce.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Elizabeth Weitzman
New York Daily News
May 15, 2012
The easily offended will be appalled. The rarely offended may be appalled. But they'll have to stop laughing long enough to realize it.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Soren Anderson
Seattle Times
May 15, 2012
Terrorism and torture, anti-Semitism and pedophilia, onanism and armpit hair: They're all grist for the comic mill in Sacha Baron Cohen's latest assault on moviegoers' funny bones.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Scott Tobias
AV Club
May 15, 2012
The Dictator keeps the gags coming as fast as it can manage, sometimes in big gross-out setpieces like an impromptu baby delivery, but more often in the general fusillade of hit-or-miss jokes that hit at a better-than-average rate.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
May 14, 2012
Never achieves the stinging parodic heights of Cohen's Borat movie, but manages a better batting average than his most recent misfire, Bruno.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/4
Top Critic
Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
May 14, 2012
Cohen and Charles offer a lot of admittedly witty observations, but they don't build into anything bigger or smarter. They're too broad.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Keith Uhlich
Time Out
May 14, 2012
Even the stoniest face will crack when Aladeen sums up our cultural moment in a rousing, uproarious climactic speech worthy of both Chaplin and Team America.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
May 14, 2012
The Dictator does for Sacha Baron Cohen what The Love Guru did for Mike Myers.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
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Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
May 12, 2012
If nothing here offends you, take a bow on behalf of your stout constitution. If nothing here makes you laugh, you might need to loosen up a tad.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Top Critic
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
May 11, 2012
Cohen at his best is both brazen and sly. As is The Dictator.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Richard Roeper
Richard Roeper.com
May 11, 2012
Of course it's offensive and tasteless. That's the point. Sometimes the jokes are excruciatingly funny.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Ben Walters
Time Out
May 11, 2012
If a comedy is meant to make you laugh, mission accomplished. As a series of wonderfully grotesque set-pieces, The Dictator delivers.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
May 11, 2012
The Dictator is funny, in addition to being obscene, disgusting, scatological, vulgar, crude and so on.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Christy Lemire
Associated Press
May 11, 2012
Clearly, Baron Cohen is a smart, gifted and versatile actor; it's time for him to stretch his abilities and dictate to himself a new kind of challenge.
Top Critic
Peter Debruge
Variety
May 11, 2012
Typically, political correctness couldn't be farther from the filmmakers' mind, and yet, what the pic most sorely lacks is the sort of humanist appeal Chaplin delivered at the close of The Great Dictator.
Top Critic
Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
May 11, 2012
Fans of the nasty Baron Cohen may regret his being borderline nice in The Dictator. But we should welcome his decision to stop being the best at something few others dare try and instead to inhabit a more familiar comedy style.
Top Critic
Todd McCarthy
Hollywood Reporter
May 11, 2012
Cohen employs a comic range that ricochets between wicked political barbs and the lowest anatomical farce, to often funny and occasionally hilarious effect.
Top Critic
Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
May 11, 2012
While Baron Cohen's lanky physical slapstick and verbal manglings are funny, the movie begins to feel like one of the later, worn-out Pink Panther movies.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Glenn Kenny
MSN Movies
May 10, 2012
Baron Cohen balances the stupid, outrageous, over-the-top stuff with almost, ahem, radically provocative observations and pronouncements...
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5