Obviously, venturing away from the construct that made Brüno and Borat as successful as they were is a risky gambit for Sacha Baron Cohen, especially considering how poorly (as co-writer/star) his first foray into the realm of scripted comedy went in the form of Ali G Indahouse. While The Dictator is certainly uneven at times, it is certainly a more successful film than his first scripted flick. Some of the film's success could likely be owing to the extra creative talent that was brought in on this project. Larry Charles, director of Cohen's last two star-vehicles, uses his connections to Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld to enlist the talents of Alec Berg, David Mandel, and Jeff Schaffer, all of whose curricula vitae include writing and/or producer credits on both programs (Schaffer is also the co-creator of The League). While The Dictator is far from a tautly told story, the comedic chops of those writers--and obviously Cohen's as well--shine brightly.
More importantly, the film is quite funny. There is plenty of incisive satire to accompany the absurd and offensive (I mean this in a positive way) brand of humor on display. While the scenes at the co-op might not all work, the setting does certainly provide an environment rife with opportunities to poke fun at the over-sensitive and impractical left. Every time Aladeen crosses paths with any ethnic group, the offensive and ignorant comments that come out of his mouth are shocking and hilarious. And that is exactly what one with any familiarity with Cohen's past works should expect. The Dictator gives the viewer mostly what is expected. This is neither exceedingly good nor bad. It delivers what one would hope it would while never exactly surprising at any turn.
It is what it is, but at least The Dictator doesn't pull any punches.