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In memory of former North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il is “The Dictator,” the latest raunchy and astoundingly offensive comedy co-written and starring Sacha Baron Cohen himself. Back also comes director Larry Charles, who oversaw the making of Cohen’s two previous box office hits “Borat” and “Bruño” as well.
Multi-personality-wielding Cohen plays Admiral General Aladeen, the dictator of a made up country in North Africa named Wadiya. It resembles a combination of Libya, Iran and several other unstable countries around that area of the world. Aladeen is most like Muammar Gaddafi: completely consumed by the perpetual royalty he grew up with as a spoiled little soon-to-be-dictator, oblivious to reality and ignorantly hateful. His character is an obvious satirical metaphor of the political instability we have seen around the Middle East in the last few decades.
Alongside the controversial Cohen is Sir Ben Kingsley, who plays Aladeen’s right hand man Tamir. He holds carte blanche over Wadiya because of his influence over Aladeen and Aladeen’s general inability to run the country (and have any common sense in general). Essentially, Aladeen is a tyrant puppet that has no good skills or qualities, similar to the dictators that the media exposes us to on a daily basis with their sensationalistic stories.
FYI: The gay jokes throughout the movie are rather incessant – at one time Aladeen calls Anna Faris’ character a “lesbian hobbit.” Aside from that, John C. Reilly gives the best cameo, at one point referring to the Avatar Na’vi creatures as “blue, tree-loving queers.” Megan Fox plays herself as an Ambassador (or, Ambassa-whore) to the U S of A, fucking the bush-brandishing dictator to keep her country safe at one point.
This movie’s pacing isn’t fluent, but it works under 90 minutes because of Cohen’s inexplicable behaviors as an actor. In my opinion, Cohen needs to start working with better filmmakers when playing these ludicrous, larger-than-life characters. “The Dictator” marks the first time that Cohen and Charles have worked together with a scripted plot, and a scripted plot better exploits the true creativity of Cohen because, let’s face it, he’s funny.
I don’t mean to be censorious, but Charles’ editing choices and shot placements just don’t flow gracefully. Either his shot compositions are completely not thought out at all, or he just has an awful eye because a good chunk (about half) of the movie looks like it’s taken out of a live action documentary – sloppy and seemingly… live. It could have been executed better if it had a director that could add more of a comedic shock factor to the edited sequences of the already scripted, completely fictional story.
There are fatuous nude scenes all throughout which aren’t nearly as disgusting as those featured in Cohen’s earlier, improvised works. Regardless of its absence of human bareness, “The Dictator” will still be seen as completely obscene by many people. Even though the multitude of Jewish jokes by (the Jewish) Cohen might make you laugh, they are certainly bromide – every joke is probably one you’ve heard before.
If you’re looking for a very good, provocatively disrespectful sprint of a film with little to no rewatch value, then I suggest you go see “The Dictator.”
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