Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Dictator (2012) - ★★★

Director: Larry Charles
Writers: Sacha Baron Cohen, Alan Berg, David Mandel, Jeff Schaffer
Stars: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley, John C. Reilly, Jason Mantzoukas (and guest starring Megan Fox and Edward Norton).

I liked The Dictator. It was funny, its style was different to Borat and Bruno, and I liked the comparison between a dictatorship and democracy in the US that was made at the end of the film. However, I was also disappointed in the half-assed jokes that were used throughout. Some albeit were funny, while others felt like they belonged on Family Guy.

Sacha Baron Cohen returns to the screen as Aladeen, Dictator of a fictional country called Wadiya. He enjoys sentencing people to be executed, winning rigged games and oppressing his people. Many assassination attempts have been made on him, which is why he has a double (who is trained to get shot in the head). Aladeen is also building a nuclear weapon, which the United Nations aren't happy about. They threatened to NATO him unless he agrees to cease the production at a conference held in the US. The rightful air to Wadiya, Tamir (Ben Kingsley), desires money, power and above all to move next to George Clooney's house, thus he hires a man (John C. Reilly) to assassinate Aladeen so that his lookalike double can agree to cease making nuclear weapons, turn Wadiya into a democracy and give other countries the rights to mine the land for oil. In return, Tamir gets 30 million dollars. When the assassination attempt gets botched, Aladeen is left in the US without his beard (or identity), which leaves him no choice but to take up the hospitality of Zoey (Anna Faris). Aladeen must hatch a scheme that will get him to the conference and stop Tamir's plan.

What I liked about this film is that it's different to the reality TV style of Borat and Bruno. It's an actual movie with a decent story, which was refreshing because had The Dictator been like the previous two films, it would feel old and done to death. The start of the film was boring, providing little laughs. The comedy really began when John C. Reilly popped onto the screen as the assassinator, who believes anything that isn't a white American is A-rab. Anna Faris provided many laughs too as Zoey, who was very similar to the character she's most famous for playing, Cindy from the Scary Movie franchise. Ben Kingsley was funny simply because he is such a class actor, making his appearance in a movie like this is funny in itself.

The film went for 83 minutes, which is extremely short. I liked this because anything extra would make the film feel bloated (because Aladeen is actually extremely irritating). Cohen recycled his Ali G voice for this character, which was disappointing because I couldn't get over how The Dictator looked like Ali G in a costume. I don't really know why he didn't go to more efforts and detail with the appearance of his character. The fake beard just seemed lazy to me (in comparison to the transformation he made for Bruno).

All in all The Dictator was funny. It's just not Cohen at his best. He had to rely on a cast of supporting actors to make this film any good, which luckily it did. I hope he's not losing his touch, because this film looks like his skills at creating an entertaining film from start to finish are beginning to fade away.

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