Monday, May 21, 2012

The Dictator!

So, for those of you who don't know, the star of this film is Sacha Baron Cohen, he of Ali G, Borat and Bruno fame.  In this one, it's a little different than his other works: it actually has a linear plot and it's less of a documentary style and more of a conventional movie.  However, you don't have to fear as it still has his touches all over it, it's satirical and ironic, it has crude humour and a lot of commentary about a wide variety of topics, mostly to do with the United States.  If you're a big fan of some of his other works, then you'll probably forgive the parts in the film that aren't that funny, if you have never watched any of his other films, in my opinion Bruno and especially Borat are slightly better.  I'll get into it a little more. 

So, there is a lot that works and a lot that is funny in The Dictator.  My favourite scene was actually the scene in the United Nations involving the fake Dictator and what he does to the Jewish delegation (I won't give it away here).  Let's just say that I was laughing my ass off.  The movie starts off hilariously and really keeps the momentum going while he is in the fake nation of Wadiya which Baron Cohen's character is the dictator of.  I actually think those scenes are funnier than his scenes when he's coming to America.  I just like this idea of having this completely amoral person walking around, doing whatever he wants, he's completely clueless but because he's in charge, no one can really stop him. 

Then he goes to America.  He meets the requisite American girl who is absolutely appalled with what he does.  The momentum keeps up for a while in America, but then things start to falter.  Partly because of the relationship -- it's not bad or anything, but it's not really good, either.  I'm not interested in seeing Baron Cohen's character reform or find love or anything like that.  Like I said, it's not really bad or anything, but it just doesn't interest me, I'm more interested in him offending everyone.  He does this somewhat, but it gets a little muddled, because there's actually a storyline -- he's got a mission he's got to do, there's a deadline and it's sort of geared to that.  That being said, there was some stuff I just think fell flat...the masturbation scene, the birthing scene (though it recovered a bit at the end) and the decapitated head all produced crickets in the theatre.  It wasn't like the Borat scene where he and the other guy were wrestling naked in the hotel where you just watched it build to it went to ludicrous heights...these scenes were just "okay, this isn't really funny or going anywhere, let's move on". 

However, there's more to like in this film than dislike.  The other actors in the movie don't really get in Baron Cohen's way, he is the star and the movie is all him.  The jokes hit more than they miss and there's a lot to like about the movie.  For me personally, like I said, I enjoy seeing him do ridiculous and outrageous things in Borat or Bruno a little more just because of the style it's done -- having it like a mockumentary, a lot of people would take this stuff for real, he didn't really use actors in that film and the reactions just strike me as funnier.  In this one, it's a movie, I know it's a movie, it doesn't mean it's not a funny movie but I think having more overtly a movie lessens his impact a little bit and makes the jokes that don't work a little more negative to the overall film.  

That being said go check it out, you'll probably find it absolutely hilarious and if you're clever, you'll like it for what it is.  

Rating: 3.5 out of 5. 

- Stephenstein

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