This week, Papa Kenn reviews Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest film guaranteed to offend your mom, The Dictator!
Director: Larry Charles
Writers: Sacha Baron Cohen, Alec Berg, David Mandel, Jeff Schaffer
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris and Ben Kingsley
So if you take the movie Borat, replace the documentary style with regular movie footage, replace the unscripted “real-life-interaction” situations with an actual plot, and replace the idiot journalist Borat with a dictator from a fictional African country that is not only an idiot, but a complete ******* as well (mostly anyway), you kind of get a basic idea of what The Dictator is all about.
At this time, The Dictator is riding the proverbial line between Rotten and Fresh on RottenTomatoes.com at around 60%. Despite Roger Ebert’s claim that Cohen is “the best comic filmmaker now working”, I had low expectations. But it was either this or Battleship, the movie Michael Bay handed off to his understudy because even he was too embarrassed to be a part of it.
Low and behold, I was surprised to see that this movie was overall quite funny! Well, probably about 60% of the time it was quite funny anyway. The good parts of the humor, which normally revolved around Admiral General Aladeen being a complete ******** to everyone around him, ranged from “chuckle-worthy” to “doubled-over with laughter” laughter. The rest however, fall incredibly flat and are extremely awkward, though not in a funny way unfortunately. It’s this inconsistency that really brings the film down, but the good parts can help you forgive (though not really forget) those.
In true Cohen form, the plot is overall negligible. While only moderately more developed than Borat, there are “sincere” moments of slight character development that somehow manage to humanize Aladeen enough for him to become somewhat of a sympathetic character. A lot of this is thrown out the window however, when he continues to be his normal offensive self.
Did I mention that this movie is offensive? Because it is. Extremely. In order to see this movie and guarantee that you won’t be offended (no guarantees whether you actually find it funny), you must have an open mind and be willing to laugh at everything, even the jokes that hit home for you personally. If Cohen is anything, he’s an equal opportunity insulter. And really, if you can laugh at all of the racist jokes, but can’t handle jabs at your particular race/creed/religion/orientation, then you’re the definition of a hypocrite.
Realistically, you already know whether you want to see The Dictator or not based on the trailers and Cohen’s movies that have come out before. For those that are considering seeing it, I’ll break it down so that you can get maximum enjoyment from your experience:
1) Go in with low expectations. No matter what I score it, no matter what Roger Ebert or your favorite critics might say, have low expectations of this movie.
2) Don’t compare it to Bruno. I never saw that movie, but have heard enough about it to know that it sucked. This movie isn’t great, but it doesn’t suck.
3) You will be offended at some point. Just suck it up and laugh along.
4) Have a snack on hand. The majority of “blah” humor starts around the 10-15 minute mark. Just grin and bear it, because the good stuff will be worth your while.
And that’s it! Not much else to say. No outstanding performances by anyone involved, although Ben Kingsley was enjoyable. Anna Farris is ok, but her character is mostly just a bit role.
If you usually enjoy Cohen’s stuff, you won’t be disappointed by The Dictator. If not, trust me when I say that there are funnier movies to be seen.
I give Bora- I mean The Dictator: 6 out of 10
I’m Papa Kenn, and I’ll see you next review. Hopefully in my usual format.