“Scripts suck!” Or at least that’s what Sacha used to think.
The story centers on General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen), the deposed Repubic of Wadiya dictator who makes his first trip to the United States. Here he finds love in a very strange place and even stranger person (Anna Faris).
I guess a scripted Cohen film was pretty much inevitable, as his star has gone up in recent years and no matter how hard he tries to hide it all with a beard or funny accents, people were bound to recognize him. Still, it’s mostly the same thing this time around except for the fact that everybody knows what he’s going to say next.
Regardless of what the trailers, posters, or shocking appearances by Cohen himself may have you thinkinh, this is nowhere near as funny as Borat or even Bruno for that matter (I know I’m in the minority with the latter), but it’s not all that bad either. I was definitely a little shaky about this flick at first, but after awhile, I realized all of the comedy sticks to the usual raunchy, offensive, and mean type of humor that we always get with Cohen flicks and it still works even though all of the jokes aren’t improvised. Still, the film had me laughing a lot more than I expected just because it’s able to get lean and mean without ever saying sorry and that’s what you gotta do. Do I think they maybe pushed it to the edge a couple of times here? Of course, but then again, when doesn’t Cohen do that? No race, gender, social class, or political figure is left unscathed and that’s pretty much all in a day’s good work when it comes to what Cohen does.
However, as funny as most of the jokes may be, the film does hit the occasional dry-spot where it feels like it’s time to build up character some more. The whole love story between Aladeen and Anna Faris is pretty lame but then again, I guess you have to have to have this sort of thing in a comedy, just to give it something. They also had this same element in Cohen’s other flicks; however, they were played with more of a joking, sarcastic way rather than being so straight-up and serious. It also disappointed me that Farris wasn’t anything special or funny even as she’s some type of Vegan-type chick that Aladeen falls in love with. This role could have definitely been played by any other actress.
Also, as much as I may say that this flick is mean and lean, sometimes it’s just too safe. There was a huge opportunity for Cohen to dive into some real, splitting political satire here but he more or less, just plays it safe with an abundance of extra raunchy jokes to show that he really has a knack for grossing people the hell out. Worked, but also seemed like Cohen was getting a tad soft on us.
Regardless of how soft his comedy may have gotten here this time around, Sacha Baron Cohen still delivers the goods when it comes to his brand of shock comedy. Cohen is known for playing these strange, politically incorrect characters; and the despotic dictator, General Aladeen, is no different. This guy is an ass, doesn’t know what’s right in the world, and shows no signs of ever changing his ways; but hey, it’s all good as long as Cohen is able to make us laugh, and make us laugh is what he does. Can’t really say anything else that hasn’t already been said about him and his character here is definitely no different than any other he has ever played, but Cohen is still the selling-point of this flick and with good reason.
Consensus: At a swift 82 minutes (including credits), The Dictator doesn’t over-stay its welcome and shows that Cohen is still able to make his raunchy, mean, and offensive brand of comedy work despite pulling out of some very key comedy moments that would have really taken this to be more of a satire, and not just another ordinary, Hollywood comedy.