Thursday, September 6, 2012

Post 200: "The Dictator" Review

To celebrate it's 200th post, Cinema Won travels to Waydia. It wasn't that fun a trip...

    Borat was funny. And it pretty much made Sacha Baron Cohen a major star. The Dictator is Cohen's first attempt to step out of the "Fake Interview" films he has been making and instead make a fully-fledged all-fiction comedy. The trailers showed the movie as a film about an evil dictator coming to America. Unfortunately, the trailers also showed 95% of the film's funny part.
    The Dictator follows General Admiral Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen), who is the dictator of the fictional country Waydia in North Africa. When the U.N. finds out that Waydia has access to nuclear weapons, Aladeen and his adviser/uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley) travel to New York City. However, not surprisingly, Tamir is actually a bad guy (Well, they're all bad guys, but still) and uses a double of Aladeen (Also played by Cohen, of course) to replace the real thing. Tamir plans to create a Democracy in Waydia that will be controlled by himself and several oil barons (Look, I can't remember their actual name). Teaming up with his former Nuclear adviser Nadal (Jason Mantzoukas), Aladeen creates a plan to take back Waydia. But, the plan begins to fall apart when Aladeen falls for activist store-owner Zoey (Anna Faris)...

Cohen's reaction to finding out he had to
work with Megan Fox.
    Let me say this. The Dictator is funny. I did laugh. But, as I said earlier, most of the laughs can be seen for free in the film's trailer. The rest of the film is just kinda average. Cohen obviously tries really hard to make this a good film (The film was also written and produced by Cohen). And he is great in this. Aladeen is a  likable mass murderer. But, Cohen unfortunately doesn't seem to quite have a grasp on writing full-fiction comedies yet. Many of the film's jokes and scenes would have worked better in one of his fake-interview films and in a scripted comedy they just don't work. Scenes that could go on for a long time in Borat just drive the joke into the ground here. Take for example a scene involving Aladeen and Nadal on a helicopter. It starts out very strong, but goes on for almost 5 minutes and the jokes stopped being funny around the 2 minute mark. 
    The plot, which is a generic "Fish-Out-Of-Water" done decently, falters because of the approach taken. The film isn't really a story as much as it is a loosely-connected series of sketches about dictators. Aladeen's personality often changes when movie needs him to be someone different for the joke to work. Supporting characters, especially Faris's Zoey, are forced to be idiotic in order for Aladeen to do his Dictator routine and for Cohen to make all the offensive jokes he wants. There are also many major plot points, like a character getting arrested or how certain characters survive execution, that go resolved off-screen with barely a mention. It all amounts to a film that doesn't really say or do anything all the new or clever and ends in a boring forgettable mess of a story.

I got the joke long before the movie
came out.
    The Dictator isn't really bad, but it isn't up to Cohen's usual level. The approach made is very similar to Cohen's fake interview films and it just doesn't work in an all-fiction comedy. Jokes go on for too long, character personalities change when it's convenient for the jokes and the plot is a jumbled mess. Overall, it is funny, but you should probably just watch the trailer again. The Dictator gets 3 starts out of 6.

1 comment:

  1. The Dictator was a good movie and I can appreciate that Cohen is trying to step outside of his usual format of making movies. The film really went all out when it came to being ridiculous, funny, politically incorrect, racist, prejudiced and the like. I rented the movie through Blockbuster @ Home a few weeks ago and the movie came to my mailbox a few days after I put it in my queue. A Dish co-worker suggested the service and after test driving it, I stuck with it. I think this movie made some people uncomfortable because of the level of disregard for people’s sensitive natures and also because Cohen points out some ugly truths about democracy. He did a great job getting his point across.