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Double D’s Daily Dose: Brief Reviews: The Dictator

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So, I know this is way out of date. I’m pretty sure this movie isn’t even showing anywhere anymore, but I saw it and now I’m gonna review it. Deal with it.

I actually had no real interest in seeing The Dictator, though I watched Cohen’s last two films Borat and Bruno, and got some chuckles out of them, especially Borat, which I’d probably throw on a list of the best comedies of the past decade. The Dictator didn’t really interest me that much however, and I mostly saw it as a means to earn enough Cineplex scene points to go see Prometheus for free that Friday. So, what did I think of Sacha Baron Cohen and Larry Charles’ latest offering? Well, let’s take a look.

The titular dictator is Admiral General Haffaz Aladeen, the leader of an oil-rich North-African nation named Wadiya. Aladeen has a strange way of running his country, paying celebrities to sleep with him and executing everyone who says something he disagrees with. He also has a body double who he pays to be executed for him, as the assassination attempts on his life mount up. When Aladeen decides to arm his country with nuclear weapons to keep grubby Americans out, he is summoned to appear in New York City by the UN Security Council to review the activity of his country. He reluctantly agrees and travels to America where he is greeted not with cheering, but jeering from angry protestors. When an assassination attempt is made and Aladeen’s precious beard is shaved off, he is replaced by his own double and must prove that he is the real Aladeen to stop his precious country from becoming a democracy.

Charles and Cohen drop their usual faux-documentary shtick and go for mainstream on this one. The story and the jokes are much more straight-forward and the humour has been watered down for today’s younger audiences. When I saw this film, I was literally the youngest person in the theatre and I’m 23. That should tell you something about the target demographic. This movie is juvenile, but not in a fun Will Ferrell kind of way. The big problem is that the subject matter bears so much potential for political commentary and instead Cohen falls back on poop and dick jokes. Then when the political commentary does come near the end, it feels forced and preachy. I commend the team for trying something new with this release, but aside from a few jokes, it fails in almost every respect. The politics are boring, the jokes are watered down and tired and believe it or not, not nearly as offensive as I would have liked, and the story leaves something to be desired. The only scene that had me reeling was one where Aladeen and his friend are on a helicopter tour of New York, talking in their native tongue about 911 Porsches, but one great scene does not a great comedy make. Ultimately, The Dictator falls flat and turned out to be forgettable at best. Go rent Borat instead. It’s funnier.

I give The Dictator two briefs out of five.

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