‘The Dictator’ may surprise you when you laugh out loud, in spite of your reservations

Good advice in many situations: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

When in Japan, eat with chopsticks.

When on Illinois interstate highways, drive fast and follow slow drivers with Wisconsin plates so closely as to pressure them to move to right lane.

When spending time with 17-year-olds, learn to appreciate Sacha Baron Cohen.

This is how I came to spend good money and 90 minutes of my life with “The Dictator” this past weekend. My stepson wanted to see it, and I wanted to spend time with my stepson.

Five years ago, Caswell adopted a new accent and a verbal tic for six months after seeing “Borat.” The 13-year-old delighted in Borat’s low-brow mockumentary humor. I must have heard “I want to make sexy time” at least 10,000 times. Thank goodness, he grew out of it. And yet, he’s a Sacha Baron Cohen fan.

And so, “The Dictator” held the promise of new lows and grating lines. And you know what? It wasn’t too bad. In fact, I laughed out loud several times. And, at the end, I very much appreciated the satire of the dictator’s speech on dictatorships.

Given that it stars Cohen, “The Dictator” is filled with potty humor, embarrassing sexual references, shocking racist comments and a musical version of a four-syllable expletive that will have you singing words that would make your mother blush. But it also has a plot, a love interest and a searing perspective on our American values that will make you wonder if the democracy Egypt is establishing with its presidential vote today for the first time in thousands of years is worth it.

You’ll appreciate “The Dictator” most if you have a strong stomach for shock humor, a basic understanding of current affairs and an appreciation for Cohen’s comedic courage. And, of course, love the one you’re with. Good company makes any outing better.


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