If you've seen any movies with Sacha Baron Cohen in the lead role, then you should probably know some of the things that you're going to see if you watch The Dictator. He's made a name for himself doing these crazy R rated comedies that can be unpredictable and crude. I'd imagine that the fans of his movies Borat and Bruno have been anticipating this since it was announced. There is one question though: will they be satisfied with this one?
When North African dictator Admiral General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) is summoned to stand in front of the United Nations in order to speak about allegations against him involving war crimes, he and a group of his people travel to New York to do just that. While in New York, Aladeen goes out of his way to protect his homeland of Wadiya from any and every threat that opposes it.
I wasn't really a fan of those two previous movies that I mentioned above, but a comedic look at a dictator is intriguing to me. Based on the concept alone, it sounds like something that has the potential to be smart, controversial and funny. Not only that, there are also a good number of people in this movie that could help make it entertaining. So, although I'm not a fan of Borat or Bruno, I actually wanted to see this movie and what it had to offer and I went into it with an open mind.
There are quite a few funny jokes in The Dictator, but none of them are great or make you laugh out loud. You knew that there had to be some grotesque jokes included in this movie and that is surely going to be a selling point for many who want to watch this. While I can't speak for anyone else, most of the jokes of this style fail by my estimation. For me, the other jokes are much funnier and easily carried the day. I don't know, maybe I've been desensitized by this stuff over the years....or maybe the crass antics being used are too dry and manufactured in this case.
I say this because much of it is clearly done just to get a reaction. Those gags and some of the movie lacked punch and came off as unoriginal even though some of it was actually original. None of the lowbrow attempts at grabbing laughs got a reaction from me and this was a little too much like his other movies. The similarities between The Dictator and Cohen's breakout film Borat wasn't surprising, but you have to give me more than that. The whole thing about coming to America and learning the ways of life in this country is basically the same premise that we've seen before from these guys, but it's wrapped up in a slightly different package.
Speaking of "coming to America," in some ways, this also reminded me of the Eddie Murphy movie that went by that exact name. The major differences between the two is that Coming to America is much funnier, better all the way around and didn't really have much gross out humor in it if any. It looks like the creators of this movie are probably fans of this Eddie Murphy movie from the 80's. I can definitely understand that, because I am too.
As far as the movie itself, The Dictator is short and doesn't include much substance of any kind. It seems like the creators of the movie are just trying to have fun with virtually everything that's being presented on-screen. They even go out of their way to make fun of certain policies and practices that may or may not take place among America's elite. All of that was fine by me, but I wanted them to dig a little deeper to be completely honest.
I would have loved it if The Dictator tried to cast a light on some of the other characters that are included. They had several actors that are known for their comedic capabilities, but most of them are in one or two scenes at the most and they don't really do anything. Giving these actors more to do and giving them more screen time would have probably given this movie the depth and substance that it's missing. Instead, we get almost every scene showing Aladeen and it never ventures off of him. They don't even talk about one of the more important plot points outside of one scene. Everything else is one hundred percent Aladeen one hundred percent of the time.
I know that some people will like this more than I do and a part of that is simply due to the fact that it is filled with crass attempts at comedy and there are tons of people who like that stuff. I personally don't have an issue with it, but it wasn't that good in this particular film. If you want to watch The Dictator, I wouldn't discourage you from checking it out, because it is funny in many areas. I did want it to be better than what it is though and it never reached where I felt it needed to. I'll say that The Dictator is good enough to watch, but that's about it. If I ever see it again, it will be on HBO or whatever network they eventually show it on.
Director: Larry Charles
Sacha Baron Cohen
John C. Reilly
Film Length: 83 minutes
Release Date: May 16, 2012
Distributor: Paramount Pictures