Movie Review: “The Dictator”

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, October 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm.

(Photo: Courtesy Four by Two Films)

Summary: In his latest parody, Sacha Baron Cohen mocks dictators as Admiral General Haffaz Aladeen — the ruler of the fictional North African Republic of Wadiya.

Review: Sacha Baron Cohen brilliantly combined trash and wit in his last two films, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and Brüno. The allure of these mockumentaries is that much of it was improvisational, with only a handful of the cast in on the joke. Seeing the shock in the average person or celebrities (Paula Abdul, La Toya Jackson) was hilarious to watch. This time around, Cohen’s latest project is 100% scripted. Therefore, the flick requires a solid script and comedic timing versus Cohen’s candid-camera-type shenanigans, which I love and are clearly the actor’s strength. Why did Cohen abandon the formula we all love?  Maybe Sacha Baron Cohen is too famous to play a character like Borat. He is easily recognizable and, after two high profile and controversial films, a standard comedy might be his only route… unfortunately.

Yes, The Dictator delivers the raunchy one-liners fans of Cohen love. However, his comedic sensibilities in a scripted movie and full cast prove the London native is no Eddie Murphy, Jim Carrey or Chris Tucker. That said, those three comedy giants couldn’t have tackled Cohen’s previous characters, but neither would they try. Cohen’s dive into scripted comedy is as awkward as an Auto-Tuned singer forced to sing live.

The Dictator is clunky with predictable commentary versus Cohen’s previous thought-provoking dialogue on race, class, gender and homophobia. Moreover, the Paramount Pictures film is just not funny. The publicity stunts for promoting The Dictator were funnier than the actual movie.

After Borat and Brüno, the bar might be too high for Cohen. The Dictator is as vulgar as the other two, but no amount of lowbrow comedy can redeem a bland script.

The Dictator is available on DVD.

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Keith Said on

Not funny? You’re crazy! :)

That said, I think I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much (or understood a lot of the jokes) if I hadn’t first seen The Devil’s Double. There are many aspects of The Dictator that seem to be a play on that movie. If you haven’t seen The Dictator then I recommend that you watch The Devil’s Double first.

Beyond that, as someone who is not American I get additional enjoyment out of Cohen’s ability to make jokes about Americans without them even realizing the joke is about them (all in good fun of course). I had the pleasure of watching Borat in a US cinema and the number of blank stares coming out of that movie was one of the funniest parts for me. :)