With all the stunts and appearances Sacha Baron Cohen has made this year promoting
his new film The Dictator, I expected much more than what I got. As far as outrageous
goes, The Dictator is his most subdued; or perhaps we are so familiar with the routine
that it isn’t shocking. I found it disappointing that he spends so little time in
the film as “The Dictator” and more time as this Allison Burger character in a pretty
typical slapstick comedy romance. He certainly has more cameo appearances here than
ever before, including Edward Norton, John C. Reilly and Megan Fox. There is the
anticipated frontal nudity (although he is wearing a different prosthetic this time),
but nothing really surprised me in this, his third film.
General Aladeen (Cohen) heads to the UN in New York to make sure that his country
in the Middle East continues as a dictatorship and not a democracy; “My people want
oppression," he says. However, his right hand man (Kingsley) has other plans in mind
for the country, in which so many oil companies want to get their hands on. Upon
arrival to Times Square, General Aladeen says, “America, built by the blacks and
owned by Chinese”. As the real Aladeen is replaced by an imposter and shaved of his
trademark beard, he must roam the streets of New York trying to find a way to reinstate
This is the best line in the entire script: “Crocs are the universal symbol of
a man who has given up”. Cohen, who of course also produced the film and wrote the
screenplay, equally insults all races, genders, creeds and religions as he does with
every film. Perhaps with Borat it was unusual and shocking, Bruno felt less novel,
but this film just seems like it's trying to squeeze the last bit of juice out of
an already dry orange. Kingsley and Cohen worked together on Hugo, which is why director
Martin Scorsese appeared with “The Dictator” last week on SNL. Cohen, clearly a smart
and uninhibited actor, would do wise to seek a career change.
The best scene from The Dictator wasn’t in the movie, it was a stunt Cohen pulled
while being interviewed by Ryan Seacrest on the Oscars red carpet. He poured ashes
all over the anchor, who suspected all along he was up to something. That scene was
more entertaining and surprising than anything we see in this film. I found the entire
film boring, and for anyone seeking a well earned laugh, you won’t find it here.
Final Thought – Cohen’s least funny, least shocking film yet.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Michael Woody
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
This film is a bit hard to review because it swings in quality from very funny and
clever to gross to only “sorta” funny. There is not much of a coherent story, but
we do get interested in how mixed-up identities will be resolved and how the romance
will turn out. Most of the film is Sacha Baron Cohen doing his thing and being irreverent
and obnoxious in the same way as in Borat, his earlier film. I found his brand of
humor entertaining and funny the first time I saw it in that film, but by now, the
antiauthoritarian, outrageous jokes and escapades are getting stale. The jokes that
are funny in Dictator usually elicit just a brief chuckle or smile.
I did think it was clever and funny when General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) changes
the language of his country; for instance, ‘aladeen’ becomes the word for both ‘positive
and ‘negative’, with hilarious consequences (e.g., “you are HIV aladeen”). Another
time, when he is asked his name, but doesn’t want to reveal his identity, he makes
up aliases from signs about washing hands and maximum occupancy by mushing the words
together with a foreign accent so they sound like a real name. But the funniest
moment in the film to me was his speech to the UN at the end when he praises America
for our brand of democracy in which we give more tax advantages to those with the
highest income in the country, hide the real reasons for going to war, etc. Then
he catches himself and reverses his statements to say that he will institute “true”
democracy in his country, defining it in the way we normally think of it.
Bottom line: See this film if you’re in the mood for ‘silly’, but keep in mind it
will not be as entertaining as Borat.