The most immediate criticism of The Dictator
is also its biggest strength: It is extremely offensive. From the Saudis to the Afghanis, from rednecks to vegans, from lesbians to cads, from New York City tourists to New York City cops, from Jews to Asians, from the ruling class to the working class, from Katy Perry to Edward Norton, no demographic is too sacred or too distant for the latest iteration of stereotype exploitation by actor and writer Sacha Baron Cohen. Anything a character holds precious—the ability to torture someone, the ability to have someone executed, the ability to believe oneself morally superior—eventually leads to his or her own humorous downfall. And that is the hopeful lesson of The Dictator
, a film that smartly plays dumb just long enough to poke its Western watchers very deeply in the ribs.