MAY 20, 2012

Sacha Baron Cohen continues to coin his unique brand of comedy. Yet why wasn’t I laughing? “The Dictator” takes a step away from Cohen’s typical shockumentary formula and becomes a fully realized cinematic story with no natural elements. With that step, Cohen loses me completely, creating a political satire on the state of our world and the oppressive leaders that still exist.

Cohen’s latest film centralizes on his character Admiral General Hafez Aladeen, the leader of Wadiya. After being approached by the United Nations to attend a peace treaty in America, Aladeen’s premier, Tahir (Ben Kingsley), double-crosses him. Tamir plans an assassination to get Aladeen’s double to sign a new constitution for Wadiya, allowing oil companies to drill there, but Clayton (John C. Reilly), the security guard hired to kill Aladeen, is only able to steal his beard. Without it, Aladeen is unrecognizable and befriends a local activist, Zoey (Anna Faris), in an attempt to get back to the peace treaty.

Excuse me for not laughing every time Aladeen refers to Osama Bin Laden as his house guest who constantly plugs his toilet. The fact is Sacha Baron Cohen is a grown child. His humor didn’t land because I quit laughing at most of these jokes when I graduated high school. With the best moments used in the marketing, there is very little to get excited about during the film, as even Aladeen’s political commentaries fall a bit flat.

Love him or hate him, Sacha Baron Cohen does have a handle on an element of comedy that people enjoy (the audience in my screening can testify to that). As far as my enjoyment of his humor, however, I suppose I expect too much from him. “Borat” and “Bruno” are average films, so I shouldn’t have expected much more from “The Dictator.” In failing to get a rise out of me and crippled by its exploiting marketing, “The Dictator” is often too wild and ridiculous to ever come off enjoyable. Sacha Baron Cohen continues a promising career for himself but delivers yet another film to which I remain indifferent.

May 16, 2012

Larry Charles

Sacha Baron Cohen
Alec Berg
David Mandel
Jeff Schaffer

Paramount Pictures

(for strong crude and sexual content, brief male nudity, language and some violent images)

83 minutes

Lawrence Sher

Erran Baron Cohen

Greg Hayden
Eric Kissack

Sacha Baron Cohen
Anna Faris
Ben Kingsley
Jason Mantzoukas
Anna Faris
John C. Reilly
Bobby Lee
Sayed Badreya
Fred Armisen
Edward Norton
Megan Fox
Garry Shandling
Chris Parnell
Aasif Mandvi
Rizwan Manji
Jessica St. Clair
Kathryn Hahn
Kevin Corrigan
J.B. Smoove

Sacha Baron Cohen
Alec Berg
Anthony Hines
David Mandel
Scott Rudin
Jeff Schaffer
Todd Schulman

$65–100 million

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