Sacha Baron Cohen is a comedy genius and I don’t say that lightly.  The commitment he has when he plays a character is pretty incredible and with The Dictator, he aimed for a very ambitious target.  Unlike his previous movies, Borat and Bruno, it hangs on a plot.

Unfortunately, the plot is the weakest part of the movie.  Writers Cohen, Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer, try to make Cohen’s General Aladeen a nice guy.  That’s hard to do when you see his behavior and how bad he is in the opening of the movie.  Ultimately what plays out is a shift in tone that goes back and forth.  There are efforts to justify Aladeen’s meanness, but they don’t really work.  He’s an asshole and he’s much funnier when he’s an asshole.

Jason Mantzoukas, who plays Aladeen’s nuclear scientist, does a great turn as his willing accomplice.  But Aladeen’s love story is just dumb.  Either Anna Faris’s character is stupid or the world in which Aladeen exists is.  But Aladeen’s speech at the end of the movie is a great moment of political satire.  It’s a shame the uneven movie just couldn’t rise to this.  Still, for a Netflix movie, it’s not bad.  It’s not going to be as good or as risky as Borat and Bruno, but you could do a whole lot worse.