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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: July 9: The Dictator


July 9: The Dictator

"The heroic story of a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed."
Directed by: Larry Charles, Rated: R, 83 minutes

Sacha Baron Cohen has become the face (or many faces) of the inappropriate and controversial comedies that we see every couple of years. First he starred on Da Ali G Show, a comedy show on HBO. Cohen played a variety of characters, each one over-the-top, racist, homophobic, and raunchier than you could ever imagine. The "gimmick" of each character was that Cohen would launch himself at unsuspecting individuals, all while maintaining character, and charade around in the most inappropriate ways. The person he was either talking to or interviewing would not know that he was in fact acting, and the reactions Cohen earned were not only hilarious but created a new kind of comedy. He managed to create an almost hidden camera TV show, with the "victims" fully aware of them being recorded. It's actually fascinating when you think about it and it shows you how committed to a role Cohen can be. With his newest film, The Dictator, Cohen switches up the format for a straight fictional, fully aware feature and while it's quite different then Borat and Bruno, it's still pretty damn funny. 

For all of you that don't know, this is what the man actually looks like. 

The Dictator follows Hafez Aladeen (Cohen), the "Supreme Ruler" and dictator of the fictional Wadiya, a North African country rich with oil and oppression. After the United Nations threatens military action against his country (because he refuses to allow UN inspectors inside), Aladeen travels to New York City to personally address the union. However, Aladeen's trustworthy aide, Tamir (Ben Kingsley, yes the sir), finds the trip to be a perfect opportunity to oust Aladeen from his seat of power and replace him with a body double he hopes to manipulate. When his assassination goes wrong, Aladeen finds himself wandering the streets of New York City without his beard, his wealth, or even his power. Aladeen meets Zoey, a super feminist-green-eco-friendly-hairy-vegan grocer, who lets him work at her store, not knowing of the fact that he is a symbol for everything she stands against. Under the alias of Alison Burgers, Aladeen tries to figure out a way to reclaim his dictatorship and return to Wadiya, while working at Zoey's co-op grocery store. The plot isn't all that strong, and the story is severely inconsistent, but the humor is sharp, smart, and full of moments you can't believe are happening. 
The Dictator may be one of the last films Anna Faris is in that I can actually watch. 

Now, I have run into a predicament in reviewing this movie. While I found most of the film to be entertaining, nearly every joke in it I had already seen in the trailers and advertising. As the post-production publicity campaigns of movies are not at fault of the filmmakers (most of the time), I am not sure as to how to go about reviewing something I have already mostly seen on TV and in trailers. Honestly, I felt the movie was ruined because of this, and while I laughed a lot at the advertisements, I only chuckled a couple of times throughout the actual film. Regardless, as a stand alone film, The Dictator is a solid comedy. How some action films are simply a bunch of sequences strung together by a loose plot, The Dictator is the same, but with jokes. It never stops pushing the limits and Aladeen's personality and his actions are quite the amusing spoofs of the larger than life dictators we've seen in recent years. The Dictator is quite the apparent jab at government as a whole, and Aladeen's final speech compares a lot of what is going on in the US today with actual dictatorships around the world. 

He's going to star in the sequel. 

Although I enjoyed most of The Dictator, I can't help but wonder if Sacha Baron Cohen is slowly over-staying his welcome. His humor may be one of a kind, and the fact that he has been able to take it mainstream is very impressive, but I think The Dictator may be the end of the line for this kind of humor. He, by all means, is a very talented actor, but I think in order to be successful from here on out, he needs to branch out and try different things. I would recommend The Dictator with a sign of caution, letting those who have seen a lot of the trailers be aware of the fact you've seen most of the movie. Don't go into this thinking that you're seeing it all for the first time because you will be sadly disappointed. 

The Good:
Sacha Baron Cohen crossing lines, pushing limits, and being more controversial than ever
The Bad:
an almost non-exsistant plot that strings together a series of events that only aid the jokes and not the story
The Ugly:
realizing how many of the jokes in the film were given away in the trailers and going into a movie I felt I had already seen 

Overall: 6.5/10

Trailer: Instead of the normal trailer and to avoid giving away more of the plot, I posted a clip from Da Ali G Show. 

Re-watch? Huge Maybe
Buy? No

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