Monday 24 September 2012

Today's Review: The Dictator

Oh, Sacha Baron Cohen, you crazy guy. Is there no limit to your offensive, stereotypical characters? Couldn't you just become a leading psychologist like your cousin? Oh well, he is good for a laugh sometimes.

This time Baron Cohen kits himself out as African dictator, Aladeen, a man who casually oppresses his people and spends his vast wealth on nuclear weapons development and celebrity booty calls. After the UN become a bit wary of Aladeen's secretive ways, he travels to America in order to address the council, only to be betrayed by his uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley) and replaced with an imposter. Escaping death, Aladeen finds himself separated from all he knows and lost in New York, until he finds a helping hand in environmentalist Zoey (Anna Faris).

The Dictator, unlike Baron Cohen's previous movie efforts, is not a mockumentary. It does indeed have some semblance of a story, rather than several out of place sketches stitched together. I'm not sure if this is a good thing, seeing as the story isn't particularly good, and most of the time Aladeen goes around doing random, unrelated stuff like Borat and Bruno anyway. Perhaps if they worked more on the plot and characters than trying to gross out the audience or make more offensive jokes, this movie could have really been something. Sure, there are some funny parts, but most of the humour is quite juvenile, and jokes drag on for a lot longer than they should.

Still, Baron Cohen turns in a good performance. It can't be said that he doesn't throw himself into his characters, and Aladeen is probably one of the most well rounded that he's played. Also, of course, Ben Kingsley is quite good. I was surprised to see him in this kind of movie, but you can never really go wrong with him.

The Dictator is... okay. It could have been a lot better if they didn't focus so much on masturbation and boobies, because there's a lot of good social commentary in here, especially in the speech that Aladeen towards the end. The characters are well played, but they don't really get a chance to develop what with all the random gross out jokes they have to live through. Oh well, I'm sure he'll come up with another character to play soon.

My rating: 2/5

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