Studio: Paramount Pictures
Directo Larry Charles
Cast: Anna Faris, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen
Run time: 83 minutes
Theatrical release date: May 16, 2012
MPAA rating: R
MPAA explanation: strong crude and sexual content, brief male nudity, language and some violent images
The Dictator is an upcoming 2012 comedy film co-written by and starring Sacha Baron Cohen. The Dictator feels almost exactly like a Saturday Night Live movie from the 90s. Like the SNL movies, The Dictator has a central character who is constructed from two-dimensional schtick, one who would probably be delightful in disconnected sketches presented every couple of weeks. The SNL movies never figured out how to take these sketch characters – the Ladies Man, Mary Katherine Gallagher, the Roxbury Guys – and put them into a feature length story. And so their schtick became repetitive and irritating and the movies themselves were just simply bad.
The Dictator isn’t as bad as Superstar or It’s Pat, but that’s not high praise. Sacha Baron Cohen is once again putting on a wacky accent to play an offensive foreigner, but this time he’s less good-natured than the likes of Borat and Bruno. Admiral General Aladeen is the petty tyrant of the nation of Wadiya, and he’s a conglomeration of all the stupid, insular, bizarre dictators we’ve known over the past few decades. He holds a Wadiyan Olympics and makes sure he wins all the medals, he has awarded himself four Wadiyan Golden Globes for acting, he’s the Chief Surgeon of Wadiya, and he’s changed over 300 words in the Wadiyan language to simply be “Aladeen” (which actually leads to some funny jokes). He’s the personification of the strange mix of evil and odd that comes when men get supreme power.
Through a series of poorly executed scenes that barely cut together, Aladeen is shorn of his signature beard and set adrift in the streets of New York City while a double takes his place – all in order to sell Wadiya’s valuable oil to a bunch of the usual suspect oil companies. He ends up with Zoe (Anna Faris, looking very worn out from her time in the Scary Movie brothel), who hilariously (?) enough is a vegan feminist environut, ie, everything exactly the opposite of Aladeen. Stuff happens and then the movie ends.
Some of the individual sequences of The Dictator are funny. If they were taken on their own, as a skit – The Dictator Works In An Organic Food Co-op, The Dictator Gets Tortured, The Dictator Delivers A Baby, The Dictator Comes To Appreciate Yiddish, The Dictator Goes To A Wake – they might work. In the movie they’re simply disjointed gags, barely strung together, all riffing on exactly the same joke again and again. He’s an offensive, racist, sexist maniac and he’s interacting with regular people!