Directed by: Larry Charles
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley
Running Time: 1 hr 25 mins
Release Date: May 16, 2012
PLOT: General Aladeen (Cohen) is an evil dictator who is overthrown, and now must struggle to find a new life and possible love in New York City.
WHO’S IT FOR? The humor is outlandish, with tons of filthy jokes crammed in to the short running time.
I like to go in fresh. I avoided all trailers and TV spots. When I sat down to watch the The Dictator I thought I was getting more of the same with Cohen from his previous films Borat and Bruno. That’s not the case here.
Like the movie title, Cohen seems to dictate all aspects of this film, but this time instead of throwing his humor at unsuspecting (typically dim-witted) real Americans, he’s playing off of real actors, and that’s part of the problem.
There is no “real world” aspect to The Dictator when talking about the people, or the concept. It’s a crazy, mixed bag of comedy that constantly fires funny shots your way, but only some of them hit their mark.
General Aladeen wants nuclear power for his country Wadiya, and fear follows from other countries. Unfortunately, he’s crossed by his right-hand man played by Ben Kingsley. Then, once left for dead on the streets of New York, he encounters Zoey (Faris) who runs a co-op. He tries to regain his power, but the movie fails to really investigate whether he’s falling for democracy.
The outrageous is on display with plenty of penis and vagina jokes. The supporting cast isn’t given much of anything to do. Kingsley doesn’t get anything funny to do or say, and it’s not like we’re actually feeling threatened or worried about this character. Faris has proven funny before, but here she’s just the butt of Cohen’s jokes. There are about 100 references to her (and her short, black wig) looking like a little boy. Only once did Faris get something funny to say, when she talks about attending a feminist clown class in college. There are however, plenty of cameos that are fun for a few seconds.
A great way to judge a comedy is, when your buddy says he saw the film in question, do you immediately smile, and then spend the next five minutes swapping stories about the best parts. I don’t have that motivation with The Dictator.
The Dictator doesn’t expose stupidity. That’s what Cohen has done absolutely wonderfully in the past with his other characters. Now he’s just acting stupid. Sometimes it’s funny, but for the most part it’s a paper-thin film lead by someone who’s forcing his laughter on you. Luckily, Cohen is good enough to hit your funny bone just enough to make this 85-minute movie worthwhile.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10