I regrettably saw The Dictator over the weekend, and it was pretty offensive. Not so much in its content (I hope you love terrorist jokes!), but just in the fact that it was very unfunny.
To be offended by the outdated Middle East jokes in The Dictator is like being offended by Jay Leno's nightly monologue. Yes, they were more profane than you'd see on TV, but they were just so painfully obvious. And a good chunk of the best jokes (obvious or not) were ruined in the trailer.
The funniest parts, to me, were the jokes about the lavish lifestyle of the dictator in his native country. But I find people who have so much excess that they don't know what to productively do with it to be rather funny. Those were my favorite parts of the below average Arthur remake, as well. Some jokes were even slightly creative, like playing a terrorist version of Wii. But once the actual plot kicked in, the movie started to fall pretty flat. I saw it a couple days ago and I'm struggling right now to even remember all the parts that I genuinely liked. It was a forgettable movie.
I love Sasha Baron Cohen at his best, but this is probably near his worst. I laughed out-loud at maybe 50% of the movie, and I don't know if you consider that a good percentage or not, but it was never a boisterous, hearty laugh. It was always just a "that's amusing" laugh. A "Heh... Heh heh" laugh.
The Dictator is totally watchable, but I wouldn't pay to watch it if I were you, now that I've seen it. Just wait until it's on Comedy Central or for $1 on Redbox or something. Somewhere where you have easy ability to turn it off and do something else when you lose interest.
Cohen has made four films (where he was the main comedy force behind them); two of which were mainly scripted, and the other two were brilliant "insert fictional character into reality" type films. The two scripted ones, this and Ali G Indahouse, were pretty sporadic in laughs. I mean, both are kinda funny because Cohen is naturally hilarious, but they don't come close to comparing to his epic trolling films like Borat and Bruno.
5 out of 10
Let me just say that this deleted scene from the Borat DVD is funnier than everything in The Dictator combined.
I RedBoxed The Dictator this weekend. It had some laughs, mostly in the first reel. It is absolutely a forumalic clone of every fish out of water/guy learns to appreciate things after walking in another man's shoes/prince and the pauper story.
That was the excuse to create a platform for Sacha to do some ad-lib shock jokes and physical gags, a few of which worked well, but not enough to make it a worthwhile movie. Cohen has some preoccupation with scatology and exhibitionism, I don't know why, but it's slightly disturbing and not that funny after the first fifty times. Tom Green already owns that choice territory, anyhow.
Fundamentally, the script just crashes in the third act because you're really not supposed to root for this guy to win, and by the third act the character has not truly become reformed enough to earn the second chance. Moreover, the second chance is not to do something good, but to revert to evil.
I want to know why Ben Kingley needs money so bad that he worked on this. He was awesome in it, but that's like putting gold leaf on a.....