The Dictator (2012)
Sacha Baron Cohen's follow-up to the hugely successful and simply brilliant Brüno is another out-and-out social and political satire. When it comes to relevance, The Dictator is just as spot on as Brüno; this time Cohen delivers heavy blows to the many dictatorships of our modern era, and especially Middle-Eastern/Arab ones like the Gaddafi-era Libya. Cohen attacks the misogynistic, anti-semitic, elitist and generally oppressive nature he claims is prevalent in these rules, and as usual he stops at nothing in illustrating his opinions. All of Cohen's usual bad-taste, scatological details are included, but in The Dictator, as opposed to in Brüno, they feel more embarrassing on behalf of the film rather than on behalf of those he satirizes, because the sub-cultures he attacked in Brüno (anti-gays for instance) deserved to sit through what Brüno had them sit through. In The Dictator, the only ones being sentenced to watch are us viewers.
That of course leads us to another major difference with The Dictator; this is no mockumentary, this is straight-forward fiction. And while this means one aspect less to play off of (and for many viewers, less embarrassment), it also means that more is resting on the script, which is uneven from start to finish. The larger lines are well drawn-out, but much of the dialogue seems to be a case of haste making waste. Luckily, there are exception, and Cohen's brilliant comic sense and great delivery (his accent here is hilarious) ensures enough laughs even for the more critical viewers. There is particularly one scene aboard a helicopter which plays delightfully and effectively on prejudice. I believe this small segment sums up what Cohen is trying to do here - and largely succeeds with.