Film Review: The Dictator
It’s become the norm for the price of a ticket to a Sacha Baron Cohen movie to come with a glimpse of male genitalia.
Vulgarity is the main hook with the English comic and his new movie, The Dictator, scores high in the crude department but unfortunately low on the laughs.
From losing a phone in a women’s vagina, to kicking a 14-year old boy up the arse, to reinforcing tired stereotypes, Cohen has meshed it all into a poorly scripted and rather dull 83 minutes.
In Borat, Baron Cohen mixed controversial humour with brazen social comment. In Bruno he was out to shock and the comedy was cruelly misplaced. The Dictator is his second entirely scripted, character-led movie after Ali G. It highlights a further decline in his waning talents.
The plot-line is as weak as thrice used teabag.
Admiral-General Alameed is the dictator of the North African Republic of Wadiya. In a bid to fool the UN Security Council, who are concerned by his dallying in the use of nuclear weapons, Alameed travels to America to address them. While in the US he is framed by his trusted general Tamir, played by the horribly underused Ben Kingsley, shorn of his trademark beard and replaced with a simpleton body double.
Tamir then tries to democratise Wadiya and sell its oil resources for his own benefit. Alameed finds himself cast aside on the streets of Brooklyn where he inadvertently stumbles upon a job in an independently owned food store. He then attempts to hatch a plan to re-infiltrate his entourage and save the dictatorship of his beloved country.
Needless to say there is the prerequisite Hollywood love interest played by Anna Faris, wooden as per usual, the zany ex-pat Wadiyans who work in low-skilled jobs and live in Brooklyn’s Little Wadiya, numerous racial and religious gags and Cohen’s oh so ironic anti-Semitic quips.
What is even more puzzling about the lack of good lines in this movie is the presence of Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry Charles as director, who fails to instil any kind of substance or resonance to a flailing script. John C. Reilly all too briefly appears as an ignorant patriot American bodyguard in a sub-plot which could have saved the movie were it allowed to develop further.
Baron Cohen’s contemporaries, such as Larry David and Ricky Gervais can get away with vulgarity because they have genuine comedy and social analysis to back it up. Baron Cohen hasn’t yet mastered the skill of linking the bizarre and mundane without coming across as an old school, slap-stick comedian.
Indeed, the funniest thing about this movie is the soundtrack, where hits such as Everybody Hurts by REM and Let’s Get it On Marvin Gaye are re-imagined by ethnic artists for comic affect.
Other than that, The Dictator is essentially, Don’t Mess with the Zohan 2 and Baron Cohen is in real danger of becoming the next Adam Sandler. Another average outing like this and Baron Cohen will be in the same league as Martin Lawrence. It’s a slippery slope.
Posted by Robert McNamara, Sports Editor on at 10:43 am.
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