I’m a big big fan of ALI G and BORAT and I have to give Kudos here for Larry Charles and Sacha Baron Cohen sticking to their guns and mining comedy out of politics and American social morays. It can really work (Borat) or it can be a real misfire (Bruno). In THE DICTATOR, the first solid feature narrative since ALI G, the pair have come up with another political edged comedy that has some genuine laughs throughout but nothing that you haven’t seen before.
To me Cohen seems caged within this script, some of the jokes are great, but whereas BORAT and BRUNO gave you real life discomfort as people genuinely reacted to the performer – here everyone is a performer so there’s that “hollywood narrative” the film flows along and it’s here that the film has its greatest weakness – Cohen can’t let loose and to me the reactions are insincere. That’s not to say it’s without any surprises or laughs – there are plenty – the birthing scene in particular will be referenced for times to come, the Dictatorship speech is inspired and the Megan Fox sequence is top notch. But all the dick size jokes and vagina references have been done before.
A good example of what I mean about being caged is, if you click over to apple.com/trailers and find THE DICTATOR and watch that 4 minute clip – Had that been done with real life people could you imagine how much more hilarious and bitingly uncomfortable the scene would be? It’s probably pushing the envelope too far – but you’ll get the sense of what I mean. Here’s the link to it. http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/paramount/thedictator/
Luckily, though, its the presence of Cohen that keeps things going, he’s playful exuberance is ever present and he hams it up all the way. Anna Faris is ok and what a job it would’ve been to play off Cohen.
Other than that – the covered songs on the soundtrack are good fun – as are the clips in the end credits – the last one of which is the funniest part of the entire film. THE DICTATOR is fun and I liken it to YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN fish out of water New York silliness.
THE DICTATOR is currently in cinemas everywhere across AUSTRALIA through PARAMOUNT PICTURES.