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Friday, August 31, 2012

The Dictator - Review (2012)

Sacha Baron Cohen emerged on the US scene in 2003 with "Da Ali G Show" a hilarious, satirical show that had Cohen interviewing unsuspecting guests with his alter-egos.  Some of the funniest stuff on TV.  Often cruel, but almost always able to provide a few laughs and even make you think.  A few years later Cohen really made a splash with the feature film, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," or as most people call it, "Borat."  That film made audiences take note and also lead to numerous catchphrases which your friends have probably repeated until they became just slightly less grating than the Austin Powers and Napoleon Dynamite lines they can get past.  After his much less well received "Bruno," Cohen is now taking a shot at scripted comedy.

"The Dictator" is a fish-out-of-water tale of an evil middle eastern dictator and tyrant who comes to America only to be mistaken as a civilian.  As he attempts to return to his throne he learns about our culture, humanity and...love.  Yep, it is as bad as it sounds.  Although the plot is nothing you have not seen done a dozen times before, some of the jokes deliver.  The film has the feel of an average Adam Sandler film (an average Sandler film is barely tolerable while sober) and some of the Ali G skits that started his career.  The problem is acting out scenes where unsuspecting people are forced to interact with an irreverent person are not nearly as funny as when they are actual candid interactions, especially when the jokes are bounced off of a bizarre looking Anna Farris (her bad wig and outfits make her look like Pinocchio has grown up and chosen to work in an organic food store.)  

There are some hilarious moments and in pieces it is entertaining - the problem is, it never comes together as whole.  The story is too obvious and the volume of jokes is too high - with about 50% success rate.  These jokes range from the slapstick to political satire to the standard genitalia humor found in Cohen's films.  Perhaps if he choose to focus on more the high brow political humor than pubic region the film would gain some consistency.  I am not sure if Cohen knows it, but the majority of people that come to his films are not interested in seeing his penis, pubic hair or any old man ass.   If that message was delivered and he listened to it his audience would be growing instead of shrinking.  5.5 out of 10

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