Today: May 24, 2024

The Dictator

Between getting banned from the Oscars

Between getting banned from the Oscars, then attending and showering ashes over
Hollywood gurner Ryan Seacrest, not
to mention releasing endless press statements concerning anything vaguely
newsworthy, The Dictator had more
publicity than any film rightly deserves.
When a film and its star/writer feel the need to ram a point home this
much, it’s normally because it’s not worth your time or money. But, The Dictator is actually more
entertaining than all the over-the-top shenanigans would have you believe, just.

The Republic Of
Wadiya is ruled over by ruthless despot Admiral General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen). He rigs Olympic Games, he executes at
will and he’s having nuclear weapons built because, “all his friends” have
them. So when he is called to the
UN in New York to answer charges of war crimes, his faithful right-hand-man
Tamir (Ben Kingsley) sees a chance
to be rid of Aladeen. Lost and
alone in The Big Apple the former ruler finds a friend in Zoey (Anna Farris) and soon begins to
appreciate the benefits of democracy.

Abandoning the
mocumentary approach of his hit films Borat
and Bruno, presumably because people
will no longer willing buy into it, Baron Cohen could easily have fallen into
the trappings of Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. Towards the end, when The Dictator
rapidly begins to run out of ideas, it does stray into the puerile. But, for the most part, it is at least
fifty percent of a fun filled film.

The tone is very
much from the school of Team America,
the idea being; if you’re going to offend one group of people you might as well
go the whole carpet-bombing approach and just offend everyone. At least that way you’ll always find a
laugh somewhere. So while warlords
of the world are the brunt of most of the jokes so are the West’s, or at least
America’s, view of them. The jokes
at the expense of BP (don’t use their oil rigs, they’re useless) is one of the
few things everyone is likely to get onboard with.

Like Christopher Morris’ brilliant Four Lions there is a degree of black
humour but it lacks that film’s heart, soul and grating reality. Instead The Dictator aims for a more slapstick
approach. For the most part is
succeeds but rapidly begins to take it too far towards the final third. The poo and sex jokes come so fast
towards the end you wonder if they were fired-off, ad-lib style, with the hope
of a high hit rate. The closing
credit sequence certainly supports this theory.

None Sacha Baron
Cohen fans will not be converted but those who liked Borat will certainly find
something to chuckle about. It’s
just a shame the momentum of the first act couldn’t last the fairly short
running time.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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